Tonight was a prime example of what the Padres are trying to install within their system, waiting for your pitch. Anyone who is around the Padres’ organization for any amount of time is bound to hear the refrain of the need to “get a good pitch to hit”.
“That is what Grady [Fuson, the Padres Vice-President of Scouting and Development] has been trying to get us to work on, look for the fastball that you can handle,” said Storm third baseman David Freese. “When you don’t swing at the balls in the corners, it forces the pitcher to throw it where he doesn’t want to.”
The big draw for the Lake Elsinore crowd was a rehab assignment for former Padres’ pitcher Shawn Estes, who was on a 55-pitch count. Estes went four innings allowing three hits, striking out four and not walking a batter, throwing only fastballs and changeups while still being careful not to overextend his arm.
Nathan Culp, however, actually outpitched Estes, allowing only three hits over the final five innings to get the win and preserve the shutout.
The Storm opened the scoring when first baseman Craig Cooper singled to left-center, driving home designated hitter Kyle Blanks, and an error by the Mavericks centerfielder allowed right fielder Mike Baxter to also advance home. Cooper then advanced to third on a wild pitch with left fielder Josh Alley driving him home with a two-out double to right-center.
Mavericks’ pitcher Nathan Adcock imploded in the bottom of the third, drilling second baseman Sean Kazmar to lead off the inning. The Mavericks problems mounted when their shortstop made a wild throw to first base allowing Freese an infield single and putting runners at the corners. Blanks then walked for his second time of the evening setting up Cooper again with the bases loaded. Cooper drew a full count walk to bring in the run.
“That is the philosophy of our organization is to see as many balls as possible and sooner or later you are going to get you’re pitch to hit,” said Storm manager Carlos Lezcano after the game.
Shortstop Juan Ciriaco then broke the game open with a single followed by a bad misplay by the left fielder which cleared the bases to make the score 8-0.
In the bottom of the fourth inning with two outs, a pair of back-to-back singles by Blanks and Baxter followed by another walk to Cooper brought up Ciriaco who singled home two more runs for his third and fourth RBIs of the night.
“I credit the revamping of my swing in the Arizona League for two weeks with improving my timing and ability to see the ball, which I hope will return me to my all-star form of 2005,” Ciriaco said through an interpreter.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Storm staged a final two-out rally when an error put Freese on who was driven home by Blanks’ double, which mercifully ended the Storm’s scoring for the night.