There will be a collision of forces in Minnesota this weekend -- the Padres struggling offense against the American League's top pitching staff.
It will all be an exercise in futility for the Padres, however, if they don't start hitting. San Diego is averaging only 2.1 runs per game in June, which explains the 3-10 record that followed immediately a franchise-record 22-6 May.
"Our pitching is not what it was and we've been making some costly errors," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday. "But that is not what is beating us. The bats are silent ... we're just cold. And I don't think it matters who we are facing right now."
After leading off Wednesday night's game with back-to-back hits off Detroit's struggling Mike Maroth (five straight losses) for a quick 1-0 lead, the Padres got only five more hits and didn't advance another runner to second until the ninth.
--At the age of 24, right-handed pitcher Jake Peavy might be one of the youngest Padres. But he is also one of the fiercest, and Tuesday he criticized everyone on the team -- himself included -- after the Padres lost 8-4 at Detroit.
The loss dropped the Padres to 3-9 in June, almost wiping out the gains they made during a franchise-record 22-6 May.
The turning point Tuesday came when left fielder Ryan Klesko misplayed a two-out flyball with the game tied at 3-3, allowing two runs to score.
Klesko wanted to accept the blame for the defeat. "That cost us the game," said Klesko, who has made a number of adventurous catches in left this season but had not made an error until Tuesday night's decisive play. "I came in too aggressive for the way the wind was blowing. I was under it and it kept blowing and swirling. I was right under it, then I wasn't. I should know better under those conditions to come in too hard. All I could do was back-pedal, and I couldn't get to it."
But Peavy wanted to spread the blame among all the Padres.
"It's time for everyone in here to look in the mirror," said Peavy, who allowed five runs (three earned) in six innings despite giving up only four hits and two walks against 10 strikeouts.
"We're not doing anything good," the pitcher continued. "We're not playing like a first-place team. We're not hitting, pitching or playing defense. Every part of the game right now, we're not getting it done. If anyone takes offense, let them talk to me. All 25 of us have to get better. We have to get on track."
After retiring the first eight Tigers he faced, Peavy gave up three runs -- two on a 428-foot homer by Brandon Inge -- before he got the last out in the third.
Padres manager Bruce Bochy gave high marks to Peavy, who continued in the game despite a one-hour, 43-minute rain delay in the bottom of the second inning.
"Not going back out there after the rain delay wasn't an issue in my mind," said Peavy. "There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to pitch and we were going to win that game. I can't stand losing. I felt like I was in absolute control other than four or five hitters."
--CF Dave Roberts was back in the lineup Tuesday. Roberts had missed six games because of pain in his right shoulder, which he described as bursitis or tendinitis. "The last two days made a big difference," said Roberts, who had considered playing Sunday. The Padres were 2-4 without Roberts last week. After Tuesday's loss, the Padres are 26-12 when Roberts starts and 10-16 when he doesn't. He was 0-for-3 Tuesday.
--2B Geoff Blum returned to the lineup Tuesday. He fouled a ball off his left knee Saturday night and missed Sunday's game. X-rays were negative. He went 0-for-4. Blum is 0-for-13 over his last four games and 4-for-30 over the last eight games.
--Steve Violetta resigned Tuesday (effective June 24) as the Padres' executive vice president of business affairs. He had been with the team since August 2002.
--Through the invention of interleague play, the Padres are in Detroit this week for the first time since they lost three straight to the Tigers in the 1984 World Series.
As for the World Series ... "It happened so quick," said Flannery. "We were in the World Series and then it was over. They kicked us out. The Tigers were awesome."
"I just didn't know enough about it to realize how good the Tigers were," said Tony Gwynn, who was completing his second full season with the Padres. "That was the first time I had played in an American League park.
"I remember walking onto the Tiger Stadium field for our workout before game three. Kirk Gibson was yelling at me that this was a 'real ballpark.' I remember walking across the infield and thinking 'this is the best infield in baseball.'"
But once the games started, the Tigers jumped all over the upstart Padres.
"It seemed like they scored four runs in the first inning of every game," said Flannery. That never happened. The Tigers twice scored three runs in the first and tallied nine first-inning runs in the five games. The four-run inning came in the second inning of the first game in Detroit.
Gwynn remembers making the last out on a fly to left. "I almost got trampled by fans coming out of the stands to celebrate," he said. But within an hour, the celebration had turned into a riot.
"It was not good on the field or off," recalled Padres manager Bruce Bochy, who was a reserve on the 1984 Padres team that lost three straight in Detroit as the Tigers won the World Series in five games before a crowd that went from jubilant to nasty to scary.
"At first, the celebration seemed like fun," said Padres broadcaster Tim Flannery, who was also a reserve on that 1984 team. "Then it escalated and got scary. They flipped a police car over and set it on fire and they were rocking our bus. I thought they were going to flip it over."
--RHP Trevor Hoffman suffered two losses in three appearances and was scored upon in his last four straight games, something that hasn't happened to him since he allowed a run in six straight games in his rookie season of 1993. And over his last six appearances, Hoffman has given up eight runs (six earned) on 13 hits in 5 2/3 innings. And in five games in which he has pitched in a non-save situation, Hoffman has allowed six runs (five earned) on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings.
--Manager Bruce Bochy placed the Padres on a full-time five-man rotation. As the No. 5 starter, rookie RHP Tim Stauffer will get just as many opportunities as everyone else. Stauffer earned the full share after he allowed the White Sox only one run on three hits Saturday.
--The Padres have signed LHP Cesar Ramos, who was taken out of Long Beach State with the 35th pick in the draft. Ramos, who was acquired on a sandwich pick granted because Boston signed LHP David Wells as a free agent, was given $950,000 to sign.
And while no Padre is close to leading the voting
this year, at least three Padres were making strong bids going into this week.
Right-handed starter Adam Eaton was 9-1 with a 3.18 ERA, and the Padres were 11-2 in his 13 starts.
Catcher Ramon Hernandez led all major league catchers in hits (64) and RBIs (32), ranks second in batting average (.290) and third in slugging percentage (.454).
Right-handed starter Jake Peavy led the National League in ERA last season (2.27) and was 5-1 with a 2.67 ERA after 12 starts this season. The Padres were 10-2 in his starts.
And Hoffman, although he had struggled of late, became only the third closer to reach the 400-save milestone earlier this season and ranked among the NL leaders with 17 saves on the season.
"I think you could make arguments for all four," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said last week. "I think Peavy's on the map. And everyone knows what Hoffy and Ramon can do, although his season on both sides of the ball is as solid as you can get from a catcher. Adam has really stepped it up this season."
Last season, Eaton didn't win his ninth game until Aug. 26. At the All-Star break he was 4-8 with a 4.54 ERA. The big difference is a tighter and sharper curve that Eaton worked on throughout spring training with pitching coach Darren Balsley.
Hernandez, who is a free agent at the end of the season, had a fairly significant game Saturday night against the Chicago White Sox. First, he saved the Padres a run with a tag at the plate that prevented the White Sox from taking a 2-0 lead. Then in the bottom of the ninth, he tied the game with a solo homer. The Padres won moments later, 2-1.
"And it's not just the homer and the tag," Bochy said. "Hernandez won us that game with his work behind the plate and everything else he does.
--Manager Bruce Bochy expects 3B Sean Burroughs to play better now that his leg problem (strained quadriceps) is behind him. "I think from this point on, we'll see some improvement from Sean," Bochy said. After 175 at-bats, Burroughs has only three doubles, one triple, one homer and eight RBIs. "Now that his legs are back, we're hoping to see more of Burroughs," said Bochy. "There does come a point when we do need to get some production there."
--Manager Bruce Bochy said he's seen major adjustments and improvements in Damian Jackson over his first two stays with the Padres -- although the player is now a reserve rather than a potential starting shortstop or second baseman. "He's comfortable in crisis situations now," said Bochy of Jackson, who has three game-winning hits for the Padres.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Runs allowed by the Padres bullpen in five innings Sunday after entering the game with a NL-leading 3.28 ERA. 1-2 -- Padres' record in all three of their interleague series thus far. 3-8 -- Padres' record in June after a franchise-record 22-6 mark in May. 2 -- Consecutive extra-inning losses for the Padres over the last six days, dropping them to 4-3 in extra-inning games on the season. 191 -- Strikeouts by the Padres bullpen, the highest total in the majors.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sometimes I am a victim of being
my own worst enemy." -- CF Dave Roberts on his nagging injury problems.