Thursday, August 28, 2014

Game of the Day (8/27/14)

Padres 3, Brewers 2 (10). Milwaukee ace Yovani Gallardo took on San Diego's Cuban import Odrisamer Despaigne. That is a pair of excellent names.

Despaigne was perfect in the first, while Gallardo allowed a leadoff hit to Yangervis Solarte but erased him on a double play. Gerardo Parra singled and stole second, then saw Lyle Overbay walk behind him in the top of the second before Elian Herrera hit into an inning-ending force. Yasmani Grandal drew a walk in the bottom of the inning, and Jedd Gyorko hit into a double play to remove him.

Both starters were perfect in the third, and Aramis Ramirez's single in the top of the fourth made him the only runner to reach in that inning. Overbay led off the top of the fifth with a double, and Herrera singled him to third; Gallardo bunted Herrera to second (which seems like a gross misuse of one of the best-hitting pitchers in baseball), and Despaigne retired the next two hitters, leaving both runners in scoring position. Grandal and Gyorko both singled to start the bottom of the fifth, putting runners at the corners. Will Venable flied out, and Gyorko took second when the Brewers threw home. Rene Rivera grounded into an out at the plate, Alexi Amarista walked to load the bases, and Despaigne grounded out to strand all three runners.

Despaigne retired the Brewers in order in the sixth, while Gallardo walked Solarte and saw Seth Smith reach on an error, then induced a double play from Grandal to end the threat. Milwaukee finally broke through in the seventh when Overbay singled and Herrera doubled him home, with Herrera taking third on the throw to the plate. During the at bat of pinch hitter Khris Davis, Herrera came home on a passed ball to make it a 2-0 lead. The Padres responded in the bottom of the inning against Jeremy Jeffress, as Gyorko and Venable opened the inning with singles and pinch hitter Jake Goebbert singled Gyorko home with two outs; Solarte then grounded out to leave the tying run at second.

Nick Vincent was perfect in the top of the eighth; Will Smith allowed a leadoff hit to Abraham Almonte in the bottom of the inning, but didn't allow the runner past second. Kevin Quackenbush retired the Brewers in order in the ninth, and Rivera led off the bottom of the inning with a game-tying homer off of Francisco Rodriguez. Chris Nelson singled and was caught stealing, and Rodriguez then walked Solarte before ending the inning and forcing extras.

In the tenth, Dale Thayer became the third consecutive Padre reliever to throw a flawless inning. Zach Duke walked Smith and allowed a Grandal single to start the home tenth; Cameron Maybin bunted into a force at third and pinch hitter Rymer Liriano lined out, but Rivera singled Grandal home with the winning run.

Rene Rivera has not exactly had a wildly productive major league career. He made his big league debut in 2004 at age 20, but has only spent time in the majors in 6 of the 11 seasons since then, and before 2014, had never played 50 or more games in a year or exceeded 120 plate appearances. His career batting line entering the season was a grim .206/.241/.290, good for an eye-gouging OPS+ of 45.

2014 has been a different story. He has hit a credible-for-a-catcher .241/.306/.425 so far, which in present-day Petco Park gets you a 110 OPS+. His 32 RBI are over half of his career total so far, and his nine homers more than double the entire rest of his MLB tenure in that category. And in this game, he hit a game-tying homer in the ninth, and a walkoff single in the tenth; the resultant +.596 WPA is a new career high.

Amazingly, it looks like even the 2014 Padres have a silver lining in their lineup.

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