A pitcher-friendly home park makes it easier for a team to win. Now if the San Diego Padres’ hitters could only get that through their thick helmets.
Since moving into pitchers’ parks, San Francisco and Seattle (until this year) have had sustained success.
When games are lower scoring, starters work deeper into games, relievers can be used in an orderly fashion and there is less chance of overuse. The counterexample is Colorado, which may never figure out how to win while playing 812 games in a hitters’ paradise.
But from the day Petco Park opened this year in San Diego, the Padres’ hitters have complained.
Yes, Petco plays large — even larger than San Francisco’s SBC Park. But shouldn’t the players’ No. 1 concern be winning? The Padres went into the weekend tied for the National League wild card lead.
The top whiners have been Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko, and Nevin’s complaining boiled over last Sunday.
After hitting a deep double off the wall — a homer would have tied the game — Nevin could be seen cursing the stadium while standing on second. When the inning ended on Rich Aurilia’s fly ball to the warning track, Nevin flung his helmet and glared in the direction of general manager Kevin Towers.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, after the game, Towers took Nevin behind closed doors for a talking-to.
"I reacted poorly," Nevin told the Union-Tribune. "I feel terrible. There are certain ways to handle yourself on a field, and I let go of that at times."
But it was not a one-time incident; the constant harping on Petco Park shows some of the Padres to be more concerned with their own statistics than the team’s results.
Last Sunday, Oakland and Minnesota played 18 innings. Not surprisingly, Athletics catcher Damian Miller had the game-winning single.
Miller had the clinching single in a 15-inning game May 11 at Detroit and a 14-inning game July 20 against Toronto.
"I’m not really hurt," Miller said after the most recent marathon. "I’m just fatigued and drained. You just have to dig deep. I’m not the first guy to catch that many innings. It’s in the job description. It comes with the territory."
Oakland starter Mark Mulder had a shot at his 16th win before allowing Cristian Guzman’s tying homer in the eighth inning. Mulder watched the final 10 innings from the clubhouse.
"I tried a ‘Rally Shower,’ " he said, "I tried a ‘Rally Spread (food),’ I tried ‘Rally Beer,’ I tried ‘Rally Junk Food.’ I wasn’t that helpful."
LEFT THE BUILDING
Cincinnati’s Adam Dunn, who went into the weekend tied with Jim Thome for the major league lead in homers (35), hit his most memorable one Tuesday.
Dunn blasted a pitch from Los Angeles’ Jose Lima out of Great American Ball Park. The ball bounced on a street and onto a piece of wood that had drifted in from the Ohio River.
The company that designed Great American Ball Park calculated the distance at 535 feet.
"You just go, ‘Wow!’ " shortstop Barry Larkin said. "I’ve seen Wily Mo (Peña) do it in batting practice. I didn’t think I’d ever see it in a game. That goes to show you what kind of power (Dunn) has."
• Cleveland’s Matt Lawton, after Bob Wickman returned from elbow surgery to earn five saves in seven games: "If we had Bob all year, we’d be 10 games up right now."
• Florida manager Jack McKeon, age 73, after reaching 900 career victories: "I’d like to get 900 more wins, but I don’t know if I can last that long."
• Don Sutton, on whether more pitchers will join him in the 300-win club: "They’re teaching pitchers in the minors to go five or six innings. Because of the economics of the game, there have been changes. If you didn’t win when I pitched you didn’t eat. There are a number of pitchers who are passionate about pitching and exposed to information and healing aids and diet and conditioning, but they may not get an opportunity to win 300 games."
• Detroit’s slumping Bobby Higginson, who after a recent lineout spit out his gum and whacked it with his bat: "The hardest I’ve hit anything all year and it’s my gum. Somebody probably caught that, too."
• Before this weekend, AL Central rivals Cleveland and Minnesota had not met since April 15. But with 10 more meetings the rest of the way, it could be a good race.
• In five seasons with Cincinnati, Ken Griffey Jr. — out for the rest of the season after surgery to repair a torn hamstring — will have been on the disabled list for 275 games.
• Since Baltimore took infielder/ outfielder Jose Bautista from Pittsburgh in last December’s Rule 5 draft, he has been traded to Tampa Bay, Kansas City and back to Pittsburgh. As a result, he made three trips to San Diego, two as a visitor in Baltimore and two to Cleveland.
• Lefty Jorge de la Rosa — who came from Boston to Arizona in the Curt Schilling trade and then went to Milwaukee in the Richie Sexson deal — was called up Friday for the first time.
• Cleveland: Picked up seven games in nine days to make AL Central race very interesting.
• Melvin Mora: Baltimore third baseman hit .383 in first 12 games of August.
• Toronto: Disappointing season cost a good man — manager Carlos Tosca — his job.
• Angel Berroa: Kansas City sent last year’s AL Rookie of the Year to Class AA after he made 22 errors in 96 games and hit .249.