The Padres Eight-Run Eighth

Coming into the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game against the San Diego Padres, the Milwaukee Brewers held a 6-5 lead. With just six outs remaining, it seemed like a safe bet that the Padres were done scoring, considering San Diego entered the game averaging just over three runs a game; then the eighth inning happened. Facing a three-game sweep, the mighty Padres’ scored eight runs on nine hits to take a 13-6 lead over the Brewers.

The frame started with Mitch Stetter versus Brad Hawpe in a lefty-on-lefty matchup. Hawpe — who entered the game as a pinch-hitter – pulled a slider into right field for a lead-off single. With the right-handed bats of Chris Denorfia, Jason Bartlett, and Jorge Cantu due up, Ron Roenicke made a move to the bullpen for Kameron Loe. Roenicke’s choice was rooted in sound process especially since Loe has earned a 3.07 FIP/3.17xFIP against right-handed batters since he joined the Brewers’ bullpen in 2010. On the other hand, the results were disastrous.

In a span of five pitches, Loe allowed back-to-back singles up the middle to Denorfia and Bartlett. The single by Bartlett scored Hawpe to tie the game at 6-6. Playing to gain the lead, Will Venable pinch-hit for Cantu and put down a sacrifice bunt. He was successful in his attempt, moving Bartlett and Denforia into scoring position with one out. Instead of pitching to switch-hitting Chase Headley from the left side, Loe issued an intentional walk to load the bases.

Cameron Maybin walked to the plate with three hits on the afternoon; however, he came into the contest with a .287 wOBA versus right-handers in 115 plate appearance this season. With Loe’s sinker – and a force play at each base – the matchup leaned in Milwaukee’s favor. Although the advantage belonged to Loe, Maybin hit a bases-clearing double down the third-base line passed a diving Casey McGehee.

Maybin’s fourth hit of the game changed the win expectancy by more than 25%. Although they had played somewhat conservative with the sacrifice bunt, the Padres busted open the inning open soon after. Unfortunately for the Brewers, San Diego was only halfway done.

With Maybin on second and Ryan Ludwick coming up, Roenicke lifted Loe for another righty – Mike McClendon. In his brief big league career, McClendon owns a solid strikeout rate without overpowering stuff. The free-swinging Ludwick strikes out in a quarter of his plate appearances and will expand the zone at times. On the first pitch of the at-bat, McClendon left an 88 MPH fastball letter high. Ludwick deposited the offering to right-center field for his fifth home run of the season.

Following Rob Johnson’s strikeout, San Diego would rattle off four consecutive singles including hits by Hawpe, Denorfia, and Bartlett – the second hit of the inning for each batter. The back-to-back-to-back-to-back hits resulted in two more runs for the Padres, giving them eight for the inning. The eight-run outburst accounts for 6% of the total runs scored by the ball club this season. The 13 runs overall makes up nearly 10% of the season total.

Scoring runs has been a difficult task for Bud Black’s club. And today’s effort is unlikely to spark an offensive revival. Meanwhile, putting up a touchdown and punching in the two-point conversion in one inning had to feel nice for a team that has already been shutout eight times in 2011.




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Tommy Rancel also writes for Bloomberg Sports and ESPNFlorida.com. Follow on twitter @TRancel


11 Responses to “The Padres Eight-Run Eighth”

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  1. Mike Savino says:

    YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY finally some runs. Be nice if they could spread them out, but I guess good teams score runs in bunches so…not that I’m saying the Padres are good. But they’re better than they’ve been playing and this is a happy sign.

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  2. edwinblume says:

    How often do you see the same 3 consecutive batters (Hawpe, Denorfia, Bartlett) get a hit twice in one inning? And both of Bartlett’s hits drove in the same player, Hawpe. Wow.

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  3. Random Gay says:

    The story kind of seemed liked an extraordinarily big waste of time.

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  4. JohnnyComeLately says:

    6% of the total runs scored for the season!!! That’s pretty incredible.

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  5. Tommy says:

    I guess that’s what happens when you have 8 shutouts in 37 games. I was pretty amazed by that.

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  6. Drakos says:

    One potential problem with Roenicke’s process is that before the game he said that Loe would be unavailable because of how much he had pitched recently. Then Loe convinced him that he was OK to pitch. Maybe fatigue didn’t play into it but it seems like if you’re sure before the game that a guy isn’t going to pitch you should be sure during the game too.

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    • Tommy says:

      Now that you mention it, his sinker velocity was down slightly from the night before. Not sure we can say that was the cause of his ineffectiveness, but it would help explain and would definitely change the process.

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  7. Mike says:

    The Padres had 18 singles in that game. So many ground balls got through the infield for both teams in the series and a lot of batting lines were distorted.

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  8. NW Padre says:

    The Padres have been an offensive disappointment all season and, this inning and game notwithstanding, the failure of the organization to respond to the dearth of runs has been disheartening. There is not a player on the roster, let alone playing in the game, that demands any significant concern from the opponent’s pitching staff. Other teams must love playing these Padres: pitchers’ preparational meetings don’t get any shorter than this!

    In order to maintain fan interest, the organization is going to have to curtail the playing time of tired, ineffective veterans (Ludwick, Hawpe, Cantu) and had-enough-time-to-know-they’re-not-going-to-make-it projects (Venable) in favor of new, young players who can start to gain MLB experience so that maybe by 2013, 2014 when the club might again be in a positiion to succeed they will have accumulated 1000 or so ABs.

    These current Padres aren’t just losing, they’re losing in tedious, hard-to-watch ways.

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