In a cold, wet evening game at Petco Park, the San Diego Padres broke open a close game in the seventh inning and cruised to a 7-2 victory against a hard-luck Tomko (0-3) and the San Francisco Giants. And while it’s difficult to say (or even fathom for those who didn’t witness the game), two key defensive sequences by the usually sure-handed Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel played a crucial hand in the Padre momentum shift.
After a mammoth first-ever home run by Giants first baseman Lance Niekro gave the Giants a brief 1-0 lead over Peavy (2-0) and the Padres in the top of the sixth, the Giants had their opportunity to escape unscathed in the bottom half of the inning. But a seemingly tailor-made double play ball hit by Padres second baseman Mark Loretta to Vizquel took a bad hop in the new kitty litter Petco infield, and the Giants could only record a force out of Dave Roberts at second. Then after a Brian Giles double put Padres on second and third, Phil Nevin’s groundout plated Loretta to tie the game.
Then tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the seventh, the friar floodgates blew open. Padres catcher Ramon Hernandez singled to open the inning, then pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney coaxed a walk from Tomko with two outs. A Dave Roberts ground ball to Vizquel could have ended the inning, but the ball was not fielded cleanly for an infield hit, thereby loading the bases for the Padres best hitter, Loretta.
Tomko, who had pitched brilliantly up to this point, finally turned generously mortal and allowed two doubles by Loretta and Padres first baseman Phil Nevin (mixing in an intentional walk to Giles in between), thereby ending his evening in the seventh inning with a 6-1 deficit. Jason Christianson came on in relief to get Padres left fielder Ryan Klesko to fly out and end the inning, but the damage was now too much to overcome.
Niekro followed up his home run with an elephantine RBI double that scored Vizquel in the top of the eighth off Padres reliever Rudy Seanez. A Sean Burroughs sacrifice fly to score Hernandez in the bottom of the eighth capped the scoring, as the hell’s bells of Padres closer Trevor Hoffman closed the curtain on the Giants in the ninth.
All in all, a close game except for one inning, but that’s why you (usually) play all nine of them.
Giants batters struck out twelve times in the game, including nine induced by Peavy in seven innings. This guy is pretty good… Hoffman continues to prove that velocity is nice, but location is much nicer. His fastball didn’t top 88 mph on the radar gun, but he retired the Giants in the ninth without much incident… Roberts’ first game as a Padre was a significant one – a couple of hits, a walk, and havoc on the basepaths. Just what a bona fide leadoff hitter should do… Not to get too fashion-conscious, but get an identity, San Diego – a casual observer wouldn’t have been able to discern the Padres home uniforms and the stadium organ from those of their Los Angeles (okay, northern Los Angeles) neighbors. I suppose it doesn’t matter for Giants fans, since we hate them both, right?
Don Shin eats, breathes, thinks, and bleeds in Orange and Black. Pac Bell Park officially opened on his 25th birthday (the one year he decided to move out of the Bay Area!!!). For the 2000 playoff drive, he dyed his hair orange while studying in Korea. He watched Game 6 of the '02 World Series at a restaurant in LA, and couldn't finish his meal afterwards. Feel free to write him at email@example.com to commiserate, cheer, and complain.
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