Friday, April 25, 2014
Crazy ending to Padres-Nationals game
By David Schoenfield
So there are your 12-inning games and then your 12-inning games featuring a pitcher playing left field and Bryce Harper getting himself into more hot water.
San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals, a sleepy game on a 62-degree night in the national's capital. Let's fast-forward to the 11th inning. Padres left fielder Seth Smith grounds out to start the inning, but injures his groin and is unable to remain in the game for the bottom of the 11th. Padres manager Bud Black is down to two bench players: Tommy Medica, a first baseman/left fielder, although really a first baseman; and backup catcher Rene Rivera. Like most teams, the Padres don't have many reserves because 12 of the 25 guys on the roster are pitchers. That's another story.
So Black obviously has to put Medica into the game in left (and he has started four games there, so it's not like you're putting David Ortiz out there), but this puts the Padres in a bad spot. The pitcher's spot would be due up third for the Padres in the 12th, a spot Medica would have been used as a pinch-hitter. Black could use Rivera there but you hate to burn your final bench player, especially your backup catcher, unless absolutely necessary.
Black could double-switch, taking out reliever Tim Stauffer and putting in Alex Torres in Smith's spot, but he wanted Stauffer to remain in the game to face righty-hitting Jayson Werth. The light bulb goes on in Black's head: Put starting pitcher Andrew Cashner in left field for one batter, so Stauffer can stay in to face Werth, and hope the ball isn't hit to him.
It wasn't. Werth lined out back to the mound. Then Black made the double-switch, bringing in the lefty Torres to face lefty-swinging Adam LaRoche, and putting Medica in left field in Stauffer's spot in the batting order.
Torres gets out of the 11th. The Padres score in the 12th (Medica struck out but Xavier Nady singled in Jedd Gyorko with two outs).
We go to the bottom of the 12th and Harper leads off with a routine fly ball to left against Padres closer Huston Street. Except Medica, who was playing on the warning track, slips and the ball drops in and Harper hustles in for a double. Padres fans start screaming about some kind of curse of Ray Kroc or the San Diego Chicken or whatever reason it is the Padres have never won a World Series.
Tyler Moore strikes out. Then Jose Lobatan smashes a liner in the hole toward shortstop, Harper breaks for third looking to score the tying run ... and shortstop Everth Cabrera snares the ball and doubles off Harper. Game over. Padres happy, Matt Williams sends Harper to his room without dinner.
The Nationals went 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 14 runners on base, but I'll take a wild guess that young Mr. Harper will be blamed for the loss.
Weird ending, strange game, but Bud Black: I praise you for your creativity and making our Thursday evening a little more interesting.