After watching Monday’s game at Petco Park, it would seem that one would have to be the most fanatical baseball fan to enjoy the 2014 Padres’ season.
The Padres beat the Cincinnati Reds, 1-0, while generating just one hit. It continued a trend in which the local club set a dubious MLB mark for the lowest offensive output since 1920 with a .171 batting average for the month.
The team averaged just 2.2 runs per game during the month while finishing 10-17. Amazingly, the Padres won two games in June with just one hit.
Jesse Hahn hurled five scoreless frames while striking out a career-high nine batters, including seven in a row at one point in the game, after overcoming early control problems. He hurled 97 pitches while scattering three hits, two walks and a hit batter in the shortened outing.
Interestingly, the one hit did not figure in the scoring. Tommy Medica drew a walk to open the bottom of the fifth inning, stole second base and advanced home on consecutive sacrifice flies.
Hahn earned the win with relief help from four pitchers — each of whom hurled one frame over the final four innings.
The game featured a couple of nice defensive plays but was otherwise lackluster. The Reds generated just five hits in the contest.
After the second inning, I wished I could be at a hockey game. At least there the action would be continuous, flowing from end to end. Even the final editions of the ECHL Gulls would have been preferable to this.
The Friars entered July with an overall 36-47 record — 11 games behind the first place Dodgers and 10.5 games behind the second place Giants in the National League West Division standings.
Only the Cubs (35-46) and Diamondbacks (35-49) have worse records in the entire National League.
For Padres fans, it’s familiar territory once again this year.
On the plus side, while the hitting has been nearly non-existent, the team’s pitching has been carrying the team.
Hahn won his fourth consecutive start since being called up from the AA level. In those four game appearances, he is 4-0 with a 0.75 earned-run average and 31 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched.
Hahn’s 36 strikeouts in his first five career appearances are a new team record.
Blaine Boyer, Dale Thayer, Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street followed Hahn on the hill to close out Monday’s much sought-after victory. Street picked up his 22nd save in as many opportunities.
Medica had the Padres’ lone hit in the game while Everth Cabrera received credit for the game-winning sacrifice fly.
Carlos Quentin, who attended St. Pius X Elementary School in Chula Vista and later graduated from USDHS after setting school records there with 28 home runs and 119 RBI, returned to the Friars’ line-up on Monday after missing several games. He was 0-for-3 with one strikeout but did make a nice sliding catch in left field.
However, after landing on his knee, he did not return to the field. Quentin, who entered the season with a lifetime .255 batting average with 150 home runs and 473 RBI, is hitting just .045 in his last 10 games with two RBI. He ended June with a .170 season hitting average.
Quentin’s best season with the Padres came last year when he batted .275 in 82 games. He batted .288 with 38 home runs and 100 RBI in 130 games with the White Sox in 2008.
But injuries have limited the 31-year-old two-time MLB All-Star (2008 and 2011) with the Pads since his acquisition in 2012. He drove in 46 runs and hit 16 home runs in 86 games in 2012 and collected 44 RBI and 13 homers in 82 games last year.
He started this season at the AAA level while rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery.
He’s had just 85 at-bats so far this season, appearing in 34 of the team’s 83 games through Monday.
Despite the Padres lackluster season, fans still show up for games, though obviously not packing the 42,302-seat complex while cheering for a pennant-contending team.
Monday’s game drew 19,079 — and much of it is likely due to the unique Petco Park experience. The Padres have proven masters at marketing both their park and the game itself. The team is actually averaging more fans this year than last season.
So, they can hang a star on that, at least.
Postscript: Padres heating up in July
The Padres have started July on a tear after completing a sweep of the visiting Reds by scores of 8-2 on Tuesday (braced by 10 hits) and 3-0 on Wednesday (behind a three-hitter by Tyson Ross). However, the Friars still trail the division-leading Giants by 9.5 games and the second place Dodgers by 9 games.
With the Giants at Petco Park for the next three games (July 4-6), it's now or never if the Pads are going to make a move up the division standings.