Lights Out: Rangers Shut Down Padres

Sean Thompson

Peoria, AZ – Sean Thompson held the Rangers to two runs over six innings, but the Padres failed to get on the board in a 3-0 shutout of a mix of the teams' Double-A and Triple-A squads.

Sean Thompson embraced a plus changeup, whiffing the Rangers' leadoff man. Two batters later, Thompson made one of the best defensive plays of the spring on a bunt to third base that looked like a sure hit. He tracked down the ball near the foul line and threw an accurate bullet to first base to beat the runner. Padres' pitchers looking on admitted that they likely wouldn't have even made a play of it.

The changeup continued to be Thompson's best friend in the second inning, freezing two batters, though the 12-to-6 curveball began to surface. The lone base-runner in the second came on a bloop single on a curve that landed just out of the reach of Skip Adams. Adams again showed poor range on a routine ground ball in the third inning, yielding an infield single to the Rangers' leadoff batter. A line-drive to centerfield put two on with nobody out, and both runners advanced on a bunt. A double to deep center – playable were it not for a poor jump by Juan Senreiso – brought both home for a 2-0 Ranger lead.

Thompson's curve improved over the course of the game, breaking more in the middle innings. In the fourth, he wowed fans with a pickoff move a la Andy Pettitte to erase a leadoff base-runner, and alternated the curve and changeup to net a one-two-three fifth.

His teammates struggled mightily, however. Sean Kazmar lacked plate discipline in both of his plate appearances, first swinging at a 1-0 pitch out of the zone for a shallow popup and later grounding out weakly on a low 2-0 pitch. Brandon Powell suffered from the same ill-advised aggressiveness, swinging at first-pitch sliders and failing to lay off low off-speed pitches. Several other Padres succumbed to the slider, including Juan Senreiso and newcomer Efren Espinoza, both caught hacking twice at pitches near the dirt.

"Espinoza is older player who had a break out year this year in Oaxaca," Randy Smith, the Padres' director of international scouting, said. "He played LF but had been primarily an infielder. Our guys have had their eyes on him for the last couple of years. Time will tell but he did have a heck of a year with the bat."

Espinoza will be loaned to the Mexican League this season.

The Padres managed only five hits all afternoon including one that could have been scored an error. They went down in order in four of the nine innings and drew only three walks, despite pleas from the dugout to be patient.

Other Notes:

In relief, Dirk Hayhurst gave up one run on four hits while striking out four and committing one error, a pickoff throw that sailed over Michael Johnson's head.

Rangers' shortstop Matt Smith battled Hayhurst in a 13-pitch at-bat ending in a swinging strikeout. Hayhurst showed no signs of fatigue, pitching a one-two-three ninth.

Ryan Ketchner, who started for the Padres in their other intersquad contest, was struck by a line drive on his throwing arm and was forced to exit the game. No update on his condition was immediately available.

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