Different starting pitcher, same result. Seems like no matter who the D-backs throw out there, the Padres have their number. Caleb Smith made his first start of 2021 this afternoon, looking to continue the good stretch of pitching he made last year. Spring Training wasn’t too kind to Caleb, as he had an ugly 8.57 ERA and gave up 5 homers across 21.0 IP. He did show a lively arm, both good and bad with a 25:11 K:BB ratio, but I guess showed enough to earn the 3rd spot in the rotation.
His issues with the long ball during the Spring reared its ugly head right off the bat. After a strikeout of Tatis Jr, Manny Machado corked a ball to right, just clearing the fence and staking the Padres to a 1 run lead they would never relinquish. A grounder followed, but the two-out rally started with a Wil Myers walk, Cronenworth catcher interference, and Ha-Seong Kim single to left, scoring Myers. Mateo blooped a single over the out-stretched glove of Walker for a single, but thankfully Smith struck out Caratini to end the inning with a lucky 2-0 deficit.
Caleb again got two quick out, sandwiched between a Tatis walk, but another walk allowed to Pham brought up Myers, who doubled off the left-center wall for a two-run double, giving the Padres a 4-0 lead. Smith allowed a leadoff single in the 3rd but got two strikeouts and a foul out to end the 3rd and his evening. It doesn’t come across through a quick recap, but Smith had trouble with his command for most of the night, pitching deep into counts, and was already at 79 pitches when the 3rd inning was over with.
His opponent on the mound for the Padres was Joe Musgrove, making his first start as a San Diego Padre since coming over in a massive 3-team, 7-player trade with the Mets and Pirates. Musgrove had a nice year last year, pitching to a 3.86 ERA and continued that into the Spring, with a 3.50 ERA across 18IP and 5 starts. He’d always been a guy who underperformed his peripherals, with a lifetime 3.90 FIP vs 4.33 ERA across almost 500 IP. If tonight was any indication, the Padres got a steal.
The difference in pitching approaches was apparent right from the get-go with Musgrove, as he was attacking the zone against an overmatched D-backs squad. The early lead certainly didn’t hurt. Through his 6 innings of scoreless pitching, Joe allowed 3 singles, two to Marte and one to Pavin Smith. None of those runners ever reached 2nd base. Eight D-backs struck out, three batters saw more than 5 pitches in an at-bat, no one walked. If you were to make an equation of how to win baseball games, those inputs don’t add up to wins.
To make matters worse, Josh Rojas showed another reason why he shouldn’t play shortstop full-time, with a terrible throw on a grounder that short-hopped Walker at 1st. It’s an unbelievably difficult play to judge, if it hits the grass it will skip quick and low. If it hits the dirt it will bounce high. Unfortunately for Walker, it bounced high.
Riley Smith came on in relief after the 3rd and was decent across his 5 innings of relief work. He was almost as wild as Caleb, but worked his way out of multiple jams and did this team a huge favor not having to waste any appearances (although with the early season results, the back end of the bullpen might not have much work :/).
Other things of note:
- Geraldo Perdomo made his first fielding and batting appearance in tonight’s game, entering in the bottom of the 8th for Ketel Marte at SS. He did not get a fielding chance and struck out without swinging.
- The 5 innings of relief from Riley was his 3rd since joining the big league squad in 2020.
- The D-backs did not have an at-bat with a runner in scoring position.
Not much in the way of positive WPA on the night, with Ketel Marte just barely squeaking by with a +1% as the early blowout with no comeback caused a limit on how much Win Probability could be added.
Comment of the Thread goes to gzimmerm for this astute observation.
The D-backs will look to shut down the 4-game series sweep tomorrow at 1pm. Stop on by!