Padres SS Greene looking to stay hot
At this stage in the season, with both teams completely out of the race, the only thing on the line is pride. Both teams will be looking at what they need to do in the off season to be more competitive in 2004 and beyond.
RHP Ben Howard (1-2, 3.22) and RHP Scott Elarton (3-4, 7.13)
Howard has given up 8 HRs in 22.1 IP going into Coors Canaveral. People with tickets in the outfield should bring their gloves because the seats may be littered with souvenirs. Howard is a young guy and the team should continue to expect him to mature. Personally, I would like him to learn a pitch that has more sink to it; his 2-seamer does not seem to have enough bite.
It is hard to believe that Elarton won 17 games for the Astros in 2000; he just does not look like the same pitcher. His batting average against is well over .300 and he has more walks than strikeouts. He has not pitched a lot at the big league level this season as he was sent to AAA back in June and he did not return until the September call-ups. Elarton is a tall Colorado native that is quickly wearing out his welcome in his home state, at least on the mound. The Padres have had a tendency of making guys that are scuffling look terrific lately.
RHP Brian Lawrence (8-15, 4.35) and RHP Jason Jennings (12-13, 5.11)
BLaw has struggled in his last two outings, both against the Giants. BLaw is probably hoping that facing a different team will change his luck. The only problem with that plan is he is facing the Rockies in Colorado; where breaking balls lose their break and balls left up in the zone get out in a hurry.
It is easy to see why the Rockies like Jennings. The Baylor alum pitches better at home than he does on the road, a task that pitchers with better reputations and bigger signing bonuses have not been able to achieve. Jennings throws everything low in the zone and he induces a ton of ground balls. In fact, he has not won a game this season where he has had more fly balls than ground balls. Jennings is 8-1 in 12 starts at home.
RHP Adam Eaton (8-11, 4.24) and RHP Chin-hui Tsao (2-3, 6.69)
Eaton had one of those outings in San Francisco that makes me throw my cap at the television. He loads the bases in the 1st inning, gets Bonds to hit into a fielder’s choice and gets the next batter to foul out and then turns around and gives up a single to Benito Santiago just when you think he is going to get out of the inning. Eaton has these lapses in concentration that are so frustrating that he betrays his talent. He gets too fine and puts himself in hitter’s counts. I would occasionally like to see Eaton throw a 4-seamer up in the zone on a 0-2 and go for the out, make the hitter expand the zone. I want to see that sort of aggressiveness from Eaton because he has the stuff to back it up.
Tsao is 22 year old from Taiwan and is making his 2nd start since coming off the DL with a hamstring problem. Tsao is a hard thrower, topping out in the mid 90s. He also possesses a tremendous change and hard slider. He has had a difficult time staying healthy and has had Tommy John surgery but he is still one of the Rockies top pitching prospects that looks to put it all together real soon.
Hitters to Watch
Khalil Greene is the hitter to watch. Now why should you watch a rookie hitting .250, you ask? Greene is 10 for 40, but half of those hits have been for extra bases. Greene has this very upright, narrow stance but has a very quick bat. He stands there rather casually and then he will suddenly swing the bat with such quickness that it is surprising. Besides his unusual name and religion, the other thing Padres fans may want to note about Greene is his resemblance to Sean Penn’s character “Jeff Spicoli” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. By all accounts, Greene is the anti-Spicoli in attitude and work ethic. I do have a feeling that while in Colorado, Greene will get to say, “Aloha, Mr. Rawlings”.
Larry Walker is having a down year by his high standards (.279, 13 HR, 69 RBI). However, like Steve Finley, Padre pitching brings out his best. He is hitting .424 with 2 HR and 8 RBI against the Padres and I expect that he will continue to rake.
When the Padres put Phil Nevin, Mark Kotsay, and Khalil Greene in the field at the same time you have 3 former Golden Spikes Award winners out there. This would mark the second time that the Padres have fielded 3 Golden Spikes winners at the same time (Kotsay, Nevin, and Dave Magadan). Scott Linebrink has returned to the mound after having fluid drained from his knee and has been very effective in his return. The Padres need to win 3 more games to avoid the dreaded 100 loss season. This is the final 3 games the Padres will play on the road this season.
Kim Lewis can be reached at email@example.com