video thumbnail

SEA@SD: Denorfia singles home the Padres' first run

SAN DIEGO -- Things needed to be said after the Padres' 6-1 loss on Sunday.

That was the general consensus of the Padres players, and manager Bud Black.

The defeat put the finishing touches on a series sweep for the Mariners, who held the Padres to six hits before a crowd 34,705 at PETCO Park, and 14 hits in the weekend series.

After the game, Black and a few players spoke up about the team's recent play in a team meeting.

"It wasn't demeaning, it wasn't angry, it was just like, 'Bring it to the next level,'" said Padres catcher Rob Johnson. "I don't think it's an effort level. Guys are going out there and playing as hard as they can, it's just not shaking out the same way that we think it should and we know it can."

Among the issues plaguing the Padres (19-28) right now are strikeouts. The team struck out 35 times in the three games against the Mariners (22-24), with 13 coming off the hand of 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez on Sunday.

Hernandez (5-4) pitched eight innings in the series finale and allowed one run on six hits. His 13 strikeouts tied his career-high, originally set August 10, 2010. It was the 11th time Hernandez had thrown 10 or more strikeouts in a game and the second time this season.

Hernandez tallied a lot of his punch-outs with his changeup, which he consistently threw 90 to 91 mph. His fastball was about five to six mph faster.

"His out-pitch is a changeup and it's probably the best changeup in the Big Leagues, hands down," Johnson said. "It's like a split-finger straight down. It looks just like his two-seamer. If you take it, and it's a two seamer, strike three looking, and if you swing, it dives out of the zone."

Johnson knows Hernandez well. The catcher spent his previous four seasons in Seattle where he caught for Hernandez, and the two built a close relationship. He said he's caught Hernandez when he has pitched at a high level, but even he was impressed with what Hernandez brought Sunday.

Hernandez struck out Johnson twice in the game. In his other at-bat, Johnson grounded out to third base.

"Yeah, he told me, 'Throw me a fastball,'" Hernandez said jokingly about Johnson's first strikeout. "I said, 'That was a fastball,' and he said, 'No, that was a sinker.' My bad."

On the other side of the start was Padres right-hander Tim Stauffer. Although Stauffer (0-3) threw 70 of his 95 pitches for strikes, in his six innings pitched he gave up a season-high 10 hits.

That was just the second time Stauffer surrendered more than 10 hits in his career.

"I'm not trying to do anything different, whether we're scoring one run, ten runs. I mean my job is to go out there and give up no runs," Stauffer said. "I'm pitching the way I've always pitched. I just need to, in some situations, bear down a little bit more and execute a little bit better."

Johnson thought Stauffer pitched well but that, as the case with other Padres starters in the series, the Mariners capitalized on the mistakes he made.

"If he could have made a couple of big, clutch pitches, it would have been a totally different game," Johnson said. "Overall, I thought he threw the ball well."

The Padres didn't have many opportunities to rally against the Mariners, but by far, their best chance was in the seventh inning.

Chase Headley led off of the inning with a single to centerfield, and two batters later, center fielder Cameron Maybin advanced Headley to second base with his own single to right field.

Two batters later, with two outs, left fielder Chris Denorfia -- playing in place of Ryan Ludwick, who had the day off to rest -- struck a single to center field. The hit scored Headley from second base, and Maybin rounded second and headed for third. But the throw from Mariners centerfielder Franklin Gutierrez beat Maybin to third and ended the inning.

"Guti did a great job going back on the long fly to center field and made a hell of a throw to third base," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "They were trying to push it a little bit there, but it really was a perfect throw to third base."

The Mariners tacked three runs onto Stauffer, one in the second on an infield single by right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, and two in the third off center fielder Carlos Peguero's double to deep left-center field.

Seattle earned two more runs off Padres reliever Cory Luebke in the seventh inning, and right-hander Mike Adams surrendered another in the ninth.

The Mariners got a lot of their production from the bottom of their lineup. For example, Brendan Ryan entered the series hitting out of the eight spot and batting .200. Ryan went 5-for-10 over the weekend with four RBIs.

Black called Ryan a thorn in the Padres' side, mentioning how big a lift the bottom of the order can be to any team when it hits well.

But after the game, Black and the Padres were focused more on where they would go from Sunday.

That's why the team held its meeting.

"I think through the course of this season, we've seen spurts of solid play," Black said. "But I do think that this season so far, we've made too many little mistakes that have compounded and hurt us during the course of a game. There isn't one phase of our game that is truly hurting us.

"We've got to get back to playing a total game. There's no doubt. The total game is not in synch. When it is in synch, we win." Comments