Saturday, June 2, 2012

Arizona Diamondbacks doomed by San Diego Padres' big 8th inning - AZ

by Nick Piecoro - Jun. 1, 2012 10:50 PM
The Republic |

SAN DIEGO -- Everything about Friday night happened in a hurry, from the tempers that quickly flared in the eighth inning to way the Diamondbacks let the game slip away from them.

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Diamondbacks' lefty Wade Miley's promising outing vanished in a blink during a nightmarish eighth inning in which the San Diego Padres scored six times en route to a 7-1 victory at Petco Park.

The Diamondbacks couldn't come up with timely hits, they ran into an out on the bases and they couldn't keep a bad inning from turning into disastrous one. No wonder manager Kirk Gibson answered only a few questions before deciding enough was enough.

Like most games in this ballpark, it had been a pitchers' duel through seven innings, Miley against the Padres' Clayton Richard. The teams traded runs in the third inning, but otherwise both offenses were held in check.

But everything suddenly changed in the top of the eighth, when a benches-clearing confrontation seemed to light a spark under the Padres. The Diamondbacks couldn't find a way to extinguish it.

With two out and the bases empty, Chris Young took ball four from Padres reliever Andrew Cashner. The pitch was up and in and Young needed to lean backward to avoid it.

On his way to first base, Young looked in Cashner's direction. Cashner said something to Young. Young said something back. A moment later, the dugouts and bullpens were emptying. Nothing beyond words were exchanged.

"I was just looking at the signs from Matty," Young said, referring to third base coach Matt Williams. "Initially, I didn't think anything of it. I just thought about the walk and was trying to pick up the signs and see what happens next.

"He asked me what I was looking at so I tried to tell him what I was looking at. Just a misunderstanding."

A moment later, Young took off for second but was cut down by Padres catcher Nick Hundley, drawing a loud roar from the Petco crowd. Hundley yelled excitedly as he made his way back to the dugout.

From then on, it was all Padres.

After Alexi Amarista pushed a one-out bunt single to the right side, Jesus Guzman followed by blasting a 1-0 change-up into the left-field bleachers for a two-run home run.

That gave the Padres the lead, but they weren't finished yet. Normally reliable reliever David Hernandez entered. Four batters later, he was gone, and there was still just one out. His outing went like this: triple, walk, single, walk.

Did the confrontation in the top of the inning jumpstart the Padres?

"I don't know," Young said. "There's really no telling what would have happened. I don't know. It probably gave both teams a little bit of energy. I don't know if it affected the result of the game."

After the game, Gibson talked about what he saw from the Young-Cashner confrontation. He talked about Miley's start and Hernandez's brief outing. But after another question, he called it quits.

"We've got to regroup," he said. "Go talk to them. That's it."

Just like that, it was over. Like most things on this night.

Diamondbacks rewind

Miley's night: Left-hander Wade Miley needed just 74 pitches to get through seven innings. But seven pitches into the eighth inning, he was gone and the Padres had the lead.

"I felt like I threw the ball well and located the fastball well," Miley said. "It's just one pitch that got away."

That would be the change-up he threw to Padres pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman.

"It was 1-0 and I thought a change-up was a good pitch," Miley said. "I left it up a little bit and he capitalized. He's a good hitter."

Caught stealing: A minute after the dugouts and bullpens emptied, Chris Young tried to steal second base off Padres reliever Andrew Cashner and catcher Nick Hundley.

But Hundley fired a strike to second, ending the rally and seemingly giving his club momentum.

"I stood up a little bit when I was running," Young said. "I could have got a better jump and made a better run at it. It was a high fastball and he made a good throw. He got me out. Just trying to be aggressive."

Big inning: Shortstop Willie Bloomquist was asked if avoiding the big inning was another thing the Diamondbacks haven't done as well as last year.

"There are a number of things I could point to that we didn't do real well," Bloomquist said. "I don't know how many big innings we had last year, but it seemed like once they got started, they stopped pretty quick.

"We got a lot more timely hits last year, too, and had the lead in games instead of playing behind in games. When you have that lead late in games, you have that adrenaline, have that momentum going. No one's pointing the blame at pitching or hitting; it's just that in all facets of the game, we've got to get better."

View from the press box

Twice on Friday night, Justin Upton went after balls down the right-field line that he appeared to have a chance to catch. Both times, he stopped short, only to watch them drop nearby. He could have put himself in harm's way had he dived to try to catch them. If I'm his manager, I don't mind him playing it safe. Keeping him healthy in the long run is more important than one out in a game in June.

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