Padres even the last series of the season at San Francisco
On Friday the Giants used the home run as their primary weapon and on Saturday the Padres turned the tables. Using 3 home runs as part of a 16-hit attack, San Diego downed San Francisco 9-3.
Each side scored a run in the first inning, the Friars run coming on Chris Denorfia’s lead-off home run, and then Padres starter Eric Stults gave up a 2-run home run to Hunter Pence to put the Giants up 3-1 after three innings. It has been widely reported that Pence, who was to become a free agent at the end of the season, signed a 5-year deal with the Giants worth $90 million, although there has been no official announcement from the club.
The Padres broke it open in the fourth, and everything happened with two outs. Chase Headley doubled, Tommy Medica singled to plate Headley, and then Jesus Guzman hit a bomb to give the Padres a 4-3 lead.
Then back-to-back singles by Alexi Amarista and Chris Robinson brought up Stults who is handy with a bat in his hand. Stults singled home Amarista, and the Padres led 5-3.
The Padres added more in the ninth inning for good measure. With one out, the ailing Will Venable pinch hit a double but was pulled for a pinch runner because of an ongoing abdominal strain. Yonder Alonso, who can’t bat because of a hand injury, ran for Venable and scored on a Chris Denorfia single.
Reymond Fuentes drove in Denorfia with a single after Deno stole third base, and then Jedd Gyorko hit it out to complete the scoring. For the Rookie Gyorko, it was his 22nd of the year.
Stults had a very Stults-like outing – not perfect but steady enough to get the job done. He went seven innings giving up the three runs on seven hits without a walk. Luke Gregerson pitched the eighth and Nick Vincent threw a scoreless ninth and continues to be impressive.
The victory ensured the Padres of no less than a tie for third place in the National League West.
Back to Hunter Pence, should he be in the starting lineup on Sunday, he will become the first Giants player to start in every game of the season since 1954. His contract – which is expected to be announced on Sunday – should be somewhat alarming to teams looking to pad their roster in the free agent market, especially for small market teams. Pence is a good player, but at 30 years old he’s middle-aged in baseball years. If Pence can manage to get an average of $18 million per year through the age of 35 without even having to test free agency, it doesn’t bode well for other teams looking to get similar for a reasonable price.
Because of recent changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and players, the Padres aren’t likely to go after a big-name free agent for next season. While the ten teams with the worst records for 2013 are exempt (those teams will draft 1-10 in next year’s draft), teams that sign a notable free agent may have to give up their first round draft pick under certain conditions.
The Padres would likely hesitate to give up their pick, as they will land at either 12th or 13th after tomorrow. Roster moves in the off-season are likely to be made via trade or acquisition in the Rule 5 draft. Any free agent signings are likely to be minor so as to avoid the possibility of giving up that draft pick. But stranger things have happened.
Sunday is the very last game of the season for both the Giants and the Padres. San Diego will give Tyson Ross (3-8, 3.10) a last start while Guillermo Moscoso (2-2, 4.21) will go for San Francisco. Game time is at 1:05 PM PDST and will be carried on radio 1090 AM and televised on Fox Sports San Diego. Good news for those of you having to deal with Time Warner Cable – the folks who hate the Padres: You can pick this game up via internet. Go to mlb.com and find the link to mlb.tv, it’s free.