Thursday, August 11, 2011

8/11/11 San Diego Padres 3, New York Mets 2

Citi Field, Queens, NY
Game 3 of 4

Cameron Maybin…by golly, in case you hadn’t heard he’s a PADRE now!!

I have to admit, with everything that’s been going on this season, I haven’t done my due diligence in following the Padres as I have the past few years. Of course, I continue to be challenged to only seeing games on TV if they are on FOX, TBS, or MLB Network (remember, I said “no” to ESPN a long time ago). Of course, I can listen to any games via Gameday Audio, and I’ve done that a few times in the past couple of years, but there has been some displacement with an increase in MiLB and Independent League Baseball this season.

And no, it’s not because Adrian Gonzalez is gone. I always knew he wouldn’t be around much longer. That being said, here (in August, crikey!!) is the first Padres game I’ve watched in several months. And I have to tell you, not just because of one game, but because of one guy and his impact on this young team: the future for the Padres is looking good. I believe that and so should you.

A-Gon is “Gone.” That’s it, get over it. And arguably in a much better place. Yes. The signing of Cameron Maybin was a question mark in my mind, but let’s face it: he delivers. He’s 3rd on the team for AVG, 7th in OBP, 5th in SLG, and 2nd in games played. With now-gone Ryan Ludwick leading the team in homers, Maybin is right behind him and is the current HR leader for the Padres, not having reached double-digits yet. His OPS is better since All-Star break.

So Statistically, what I’m saying about Maybin’s impact on the team doesn’t really hold a bunch water…and I never want to go on record as saying one person alone makes a difference…I am a “team” guy and always will be. This game is a small sample size, true…but in this game alone I see something I didn’t see a lot of last year when Mat Latos wasn’t pitching…and that is some residual electricity coming from a player who has the experience to galvanize the whole staff, and today, that somebody was Cameron Maybin, and I think it’s a good thing to recognize this.

Not wanting to discount the Mets…their problems are in magnitude severe compared to the Padres problems (which are in some ways similar to, but still not as bad as the Cubs’ problems but closer to the Royals’ problems). I was just as surprised to see the Mets and their candor on the field and their support of SP Jonathon Niese…even to the point of SS Ruben Tejada’s 2 errors in tight situations. The Mets aren’t laying down, and in the first 2 games of the series handed the Padres consecutive rounds of defeat.

Game 3 changed the tone of the series, and Maybin made things happen today, with a solo HR in the 5th to finally put the Padres on the board and some sexy baserunning in the 8th to help the Padres get their game-winning run in. True, Tejada’s error allowed Maybin to score from 3rd, but Maybin was there in 2 successful stolen base attempts after a lead-off single. You could feel the lineup’s confidence increase when Maybin got on base to start the inning…these guys knew the chances were good that Maybin could make it if they all did their part and eked out a run to break the 2-2 tie.

And they did. And that’s really what mattered. Padres bullpen looked good, and the Mets pitching staff did an enormous job of ‘doing their best’ to keep the Pads down. Hats off to Padres SP Cory Luebke, my first time seeing him and he was impressive.

I hate to be one of those guys that keeps saying “next year…” but then again I never hesitate to say it, and if this game is any indication…I have every right to. Here's hoping Cam stays on for a few more years and further entrenches his role on this team as an ignitor.

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