Posts Tagged ‘San Diego Padres’

Walk-off single nets Twins sweep of Padres

June 19, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — An unlikely trio sparked the Twins’ seventh straight win on Sunday.

Entering the game, outfielder Rene Tosoni and third baseman Matt Tolbert had a combined batting average of just .188 (30-for-160). But they delivered back-to-back two-out doubles in the seventh to plate the tying and go-ahead runs.

With the game tied again in the ninth, Drew Butera singled to left, scoring Delmon Young from second base for the 5-4 Twins victory and the three-game sweep of the Padres.

“That’s that ‘Never Die’ attitude,” Butera said. “That’s the way we feel right now. We feel any situation in a game we can come back from.”

Butera, who entered the game batting .169, delivered the walk-off single thanks in large part to Tosoni and Tolbert. If not for Tosoni pinch-hitting for Rene Rivera in the eighth, Butera would never even have been in the game.

With the way things have been going for the Twins lately, it was fitting that a trio with only 50 hits among them on the season would come through in the clutch. What makes it even more impressive is that they did it against Mike Adams and Chad Qualls, two of the toughest relievers in the National League.

Making it even more improbable was the fact that Tosoni would have struck out if Rob Johnson had held on to a foul tip earlier in the at-bat.

“That was a big inning for them … after the error they came up with two clutch hits from guys at the bottom of the order,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “Good things are happening for them, they’re catching breaks and playing well.”

Tosoni said he wanted to make the most of his opportunity, and he did just that as his double went down the line and into the right field corner, scoring Luke Hughes, who had reached on a throwing error two batters earlier.

That at-bat, with the way Tosoni battled Adams, inspired Tolbert to come through with a double of his own.

“Tosoni got me all fired up,” Tolbert said. “Once I saw him hit [that] double, get into scoring position and he tied it up, I was like, ‘OK, now I’ve got to do my part.’

“He came off the bench cold and just battled his butt off.”

But after the Twins had taken the lead in the seventh, lefty reliever Glen Perkins struggled through the eighth, giving up three singles and an intentional walk, with an infield hit tying the game at 4.

Fundamentals came into play on the game-tying hit, as a single between second and first was fielded by Hughes, and Perkins did not get to first in time.

“I think Hughesy didn’t know that Lexi [Alexi Casilla] was playing hard pull,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “He’s got to know that, in the first place. … But still, our pitcher’s got to cover first base, so a couple screwed up plays there.”

Alex Burnett relieved Perkins, tossing a perfect ninth for his second win of the season, and setting up the Twins for a walk-off victory.

Young got things started with an infield single deep in the hole between third and shortstop. After a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk, Butera delivered for the win.

After dishing out a number of shaving cream pies to the face following walk-off hits this season, Butera finally got one in return on Sunday from Hughes, his roommate.

“He got me good,” Butera said. “I had it coming to me, though. I kept getting everybody on the team, so I had it coming to me.”

After flirting with a no-hitter his last time out, Francisco Liriano started strong before a couple bad innings nearly dealt him a loss. Liriano gave up just three runs on eight hits over seven innings for his second straight quality start and his fourth in five starts.

But trouble came for the Twins lefty in the fourth and fifth, when the Padres strung together seven hits and plated three runs. All seven of the hits were singles. For the game, the Padres’ had 11 singles and zero hits for extra bases.

“It was a hard seven innings, the ball was kind of flying all over the place off him,” Gardenhire said. “But to his credit, he hung in there pretty damn good, and he battled.”

Minnesota won for the 14th time in 16 games for their sixth sweep of the season. It was the Twins’ fourth walk-off victory and the second of the homestand, which saw them go 8-1 against the Rangers, White Sox and Padres.

As they head to a pair of National League parks for the first time this season as the hottest team in baseball, the Twins are no longer in last place for the first time since May 8.

“When I was here earlier, I think I was here for two weeks and we won two games, and one of them was the no-hitter with Frankie,” Tosoni said. “It was my first call-up and it was kind of tough because we weren’t winning too many games.

“Now, it’s awesome, [everybody] carrying one another. Winning’s always better, everybody knows that, so it’s been pretty good.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baker strikes out 10 Padres in shutout win

June 18, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — Scott Baker started it with a complete game in his last start. With an eight-inning outing on Saturday, he kept the Twins rolling on their winning streak.

For the third time in his career, Baker struck out 10 batters as the Twins won their season-high sixth straight game, 1-0, over the Padres.

Closer Matt Capps also pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 11th save of the season and his third in as many games, as the Twins secured their fifth straight series victory.

“If you like that kind of thing, 1-0 ballgames [are] very exciting,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Baker delivered yet another dominant start, tossing eight scoreless innings while allowing just four hits. He struck out eight of the first 13 batters he faced, reaching double-digit strikeouts for the first time since June 16, 2010, when he had a career-high 12 strikeouts against the Rockies.

After a season-high 112 pitches in a complete game last time out, Baker surpassed that with 115 pitches on Saturday, his most since July 19, 2009 against the White Sox. With the win, Baker improved to 5-4 with a 3.24 ERA.

Baker had a lot of success up in the strike zone, while also getting the Padres hitters to swing and miss 18 times out of 80 strikes.

“I’ve seen him before,” said Padres manager Bud Black, who was the Angels pitching coach through the 2006 season. “The fastball has a little bit of life at the end. He was pitching at the top of the [strike] zone. It takes a lot of discipline for a hitter to lay off that.

“He didn’t throw many pitches down the heart of the plate tonight.”

Things didn’t look good for Baker after he gave up a triple to Chris Denorfia to lead off the game. But that quickly changed, as Baker retired 23 of the next 27 batters he faced.

Baker struck out two batters in the first and followed that by striking out the side in the second. He added a strikeout in the third and two more in both the fourth and seventh innings.

But he insisted he was not trying to strike guys out.

“You make a good two-strike pitch,” Baker said. “When you strike guys out, that’s never good, at least it isn’t for me. It’s not a good idea. I tend to overthrow. So it’s just a matter of picking a good two-strike location, whether it’s an elevated fastball or breaking ball in the dirt or a fastball off the plate a little bit.”

Twins starters have posted a 1.73 ERA since June 2, giving up just 20 earned runs in 104 1/3 innings. Baker also helped lower the Twins’ ERA to a Major League-best 1.89.

Over the course of the Twins’ six-game winning streak, the starters have averaged eight innings with just five runs allowed in 48 innings for a 0.93 ERA.

Baker didn’t need much offense, and the Twins gave him just enough. Third baseman Danny Valencia homered for the second straight night, a second-inning shot that held up as the deciding run. It was Valencia’s seventh home run, and his team-leading 32nd RBI.

For the second time in three games, the Twins picked up the victory with a home run providing the only run in the game.

“It was nice to get that one. And it held up, which is great,” Valencia said. “Being able to come up with a hit like that helps you win the game, especially with the way things are going right now, is huge.”

Valencia has shown signs over the last few games of breaking out of his slump. After homering on May 21 in Arizona, Valencia batted .183 with five doubles and four RBIs in 22 games between home runs.

Over the last two nights, Valencia is 2-for-7 with a pair of long home runs and four RBIs.

Padres starter Tim Stauffer was impressive in his own right, limiting the Twins to just one run on six hits over seven innings. Valencia’s home run snapped Stauffer’s 16-inning scoreless streak, and dealt him his fifth loss.

His last run allowed came in the fifth inning on June 2 against the Astros. Despite his performance, he has received just 19 runs of support from the Padres offense, with Saturday marking the fifth game in which the offense did not score with Stauffer on the mound.

“I thought that Stauffer threw very well tonight,” Baker said. “It was just a matter of one pitch.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stairs’ pinch-hit blast sets MLB record

August 24, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — It was just his third home run of the season, but Matt Stairs’ two-run eighth-inning blast meant a lot more than that, and it did a lot more than simply cut the Padres’ deficit to one run in an eventual 6-5 loss to the Brewers on Saturday.

Stairs’ towering home run was his 21st career pinch-hit homer, which established a new Major League record. After tying the record on July 7, Stairs passed Cliff Johnson on Saturday, belting a 1-1 fastball from Brewers reliever Kameron Loe just beyond the seats in right field.

“It’s a great accomplishment, it really is, for a couple reasons,” manager Bud Black said. “Matt has maintained a level of play for a long time. Also, one of the hardest roles on a team is the pinch-hitter.”

Given Stairs’ history with the Brewers, it was only fitting for his record-breaking home run to come in Milwaukee. Stairs spent one season with the club in 2002, joining all-time pinch-hits leader Lenny Harris on the roster. He hit just one pinch-hit home run that season, however, as he started 75 games and got just 29 pinch-hit opportunities.

Stairs also hit a pinch-hit blast against the Brewers last season as a member of the Phillies — one Brewers fans, and starter Dave Bush, likely remember. On April 23, in Philadelphia, Stairs came to the plate with one out in the eighth and his solo homer off the right-field foul pole broke up Bush’s no-hitter.

Before the season, Stairs considered retirement until receiving an offer to sign a Minor League contract with the Padres. In 72 at-bats this season for San Diego, Stairs has 15 hits, with three home runs, 12 RBIs and 26 strikeouts. His home run Saturday put him two behind Brewers utility man Joe Inglett for the Major League lead in pinch-hits this season.

“I was never really an everyday guy,” Stairs said in Spring Training. “I think that only two years I was an everyday guy. I think it’s all mental; if you accept your job of being a pinch-hitter, you’re going to do well at it.

“I enjoy coming off the bench in the late innings. I love it. I don’t want to be an everyday guy anymore. I’m 42. It’s for the younger guys.”

After 18 seasons spent with 12 different Major League clubs, Stairs’ 262nd career home run made him the all-time leader in pinch-hit homers.

Yet, just as a pinch-hit role takes more of a team-first mentality, Stairs was unavailable to comment after the game, likely to keep the spotlight off himself after the Padres’ loss.

“He’s taken that role now for the last number of years in his career,” Black said of Stairs’ pinch-hitting. “To be able to perform at the level to break a Major League record, it’s an outstanding accomplishment.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Capuano picks up Gallardo as Crew wins

August 21, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — As far as feel-good stories go, Chris Capuano’s comeback from a second Tommy John surgery ranks up there among the best of them. The Brewers lefty added another chapter on Friday night.

It was one of those nights at Miller Park, where nothing seems to go according to plan. It was also one of those starts for Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo, who was hurt by mistakes and struggled with his command.

Fortunately for Gallardo and the Brewers, they had a lefty in the bullpen ready to go. Capuano pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just one walk while facing the minimum and retiring 10 of 11 batters faced as the Brewers defeated the Padres, 10-6.

With his stellar performance, Capuano made up for one of the shortest outings of the season for Gallardo. Capuano won at home for the first time since May 7, 2007, giving him the perfect belated birthday present, as the lefty celebrated his 32nd birthday on Thursday.

“It’s great to get a win anytime,” Capuano said. “We’ve been working on some stuff and today felt real good with the location and the different pitches. The arm strength feels like it’s starting to come back a little bit. It’s definitely a lot more fun out there pitching.”

On a wild night, the Brewers outslugged the Padres for their third straight win and fourth in five games. Third baseman Casey McGehee led the way, recording an RBI double and a three-run homer in his first two at-bats.

With the two hits, McGehee extended his franchise record streak to 11 hits in 11 straight home at-bats, shattering the previous mark of seven straight hits at home. After being unaware of the 9-for-9 against the Diamondbacks, was McGehee aware of the 11-for-11?

“Now I am,” McGehee answered. “That was nice for us to be able to have that kind of an offensive game, especially supporting Yovani, who’s pitched so well for us. For us to be able to pick him up one time, was really good.”

With a team ERA of 3.18, the Padres’ mark was 23 points lower than any other team in the Majors before Friday’s game. With that in mind, and Gallardo taking the hill for the Brewers, the formula for a pitchers’ duel certainly was there.

None of that seemed to matter, as from the outset, the game was nothing like anyone would have expected. Both starting pitchers, Gallardo and Wade LeBlanc, went just 3 1/3 innings, combining to allow 13 runs on 13 hits with six walks, four strikeouts and four home runs.

Recording just 10 outs to Capuano’s 11 outs, Gallardo surrendered six runs on six hits while walking five and recording just one strikeout.

In the first inning, Gallardo left two curveballs up, over the plate. Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Headley took advantage of those mistakes, sending them over the fence and giving the Padres an early 3-0 lead.

“He wasn’t as sharp as we have seen him before,” Headley said. “He wasn’t commanding his fastball and he left a few curveballs up. We did a good job coming out and getting on him early.”

After the Brewers answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame, Gallardo surrendered two more right back to the Padres. Milwaukee’s offense never gave up, though, as the Brewers scored in each of the next five innings.

In the third, it was McGehee’s three-run blast. An inning later, rookie catcher Jonathan Lucroy added a two-run shot, which proved to be the eventual game winner.

“They picked me up,” Gallardo said. “It just was one of those days for me. It got out of hand. They put up some runs in the first inning for me after I gave up three, and they kept battling. I give them a lot of props.”

Todd Coffey and Zach Braddock joined Capuano in shutting down the Padres offense, which recorded just one hit over the final 5 2/3 innings on Friday night.

Even with that, the story of the day was Capuano, who continues to progress in his return to the Major Leagues.

With the bases loaded in the fourth following back-to-back one-out walks, Brewers manager Ken Macha had seen enough of Gallardo, calling for Capuano. Entering Friday’s game, Capuano had a 4.44 ERA, while opposing hitters had been batting .289 against him with three home runs.

Add five of seven inherited runners having scored in those 15 appearances, and Capuano didn’t exactly seem like the ideal choice in such a pressure situation as the Brewers trailed 6-5 at the time. He performed admirably, stranding all three runners with a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning.

“Big crossroads there,” Macha said.

“Unbelievable,” Lucroy said. “That’s all you can ask out of a middle reliever: Come in and do something like that. He’s getting back to [the way he pitched before his second Tommy John surgery]. He knows exactly what he wants to do out there. It’s real easy to catch somebody like that.”

After the bullpen nearly blew Randy Wolf’s dominating performance on Wednesday, it was encouraging for the Brewers to see a reliever pick up the slack on an off night for their ace.

While Capuano would still like to see his name in the starting rotation again someday, Friday night’s win will suffice for now.

“It’s just a blessing to be healthy and feel good every day coming to the park,” Capuano said. “I would like to be starting, [but] the main thing is that I’m feeling healthy, my arm’s getting stronger and everything is feeling good.

“I’m just enjoying the opportunities I get to pitch right now.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.