Jose Oyervidez started for the Padres but found himself in trouble early, yielding a double to Mitch Maier to the gap in deep right-center to end a grueling 11-pitch at bat. After a ground out that advanced Maier to third with one out, Oyervidez dealt a four-pitch walk to Jorge Padilla to set up first and third for the heart of the Royals’ lineup. An RBI single to left brought Maier home for the first of three Royals runs in the inning.
Oyervidez was sharper than the box score would suggest; sub-par fielding from his teammates allowed the other two runs. A passed ball by Nick Hundley advanced two runners, taking away the double-play possibility. Oyervidez still got the ground ball he needed, but an errant throw by Luis Cruz permitted both base-runners to score.
The Padres provided a first-inning surge of their own to counter the Royals. Adam Shabala led off with a home-run to left-field that just hung fair, and Russell Branyan provided deja vu with his homer to deep left just two batters later. Craig Stansberry lined a double to left-field in the next at-bat, but the Padres failed to bring him home. In the bottom of the second inning, the Padres faired better. Nick Hundley scored on a sacrifice RBI by Russell Branyan to tie the game at 3.
Shabala’s home run provided an exciting start, but his defensive play made him today’s all-around best performer and recipient of my “I can handle anything” award. With a runner on first, the Royals threatened a big inning with a follow-up single, but Shabala’s rocket throw to third kept the lead runner at second. In the next at bat, Mitch Maier pounded another ball to centerfield, but Shabala caught it and squared up for a second on-target throw to third base, again preventing the lead runner from advancing on a tag-up.
In the third and fourth innings, the Padres and Royals cooled off, as did the Phoenix weather. Oyervidez pitched a one-two-three third that showcased a vicious breaking ball and Jon Searles followed with a conservative fourth inning, retiring the side in just twelve pitches. His fastball whizzed by Ed Lucas and his slider induced two foul grounders and two weak ground ball outs. His endurance was untested as heavy rain halted the game after the bottom of the fourth inning.
Oyervidez picked off Ed Lucas at first, but the play was more a testament to Lucas’ poor base-running than Oyervidez’s skill, as his pickoff move is noticeably lethargic.
Brett Dowdy is deserving of mention. Despite a 6-3 ground out in the first inning, Dowdy showed incredible speed, making the Royals hold their breath on a routine play. A contact hitter, Dowdy makes a competitive lead-off man and a definite bunt-single executor.