Monday, April 13, 2009

A Successful First Week For The San Diego Padres

Looking at the schedule to open the first week of the Major League Baseball season, most "experts" would have only given the San Diego Padres 1 win, maybe two if they played well enough. I'm sure those same "experts" would have also said they wouldn't be surprised to see them lose all seven games they played during Opening Week.

Here we are a week after Opening Day and the San Diego Padres have not only proved those "experts" wrong, but they've done so with a come from behind win, timely hitting and excellent pitching performances from their starters as well as their bullpen. They've not only won more than one or two games, but they've go into the 2nd week of the season sporting a 5-2 record, good for first place in the National League West.

During Spring Training, there were a whole lot more questions than there were answers. The only sure thing about their starting rotation was the front end with Jake Peavy and Chris Young. There were young pitchers like Wade LeBlanc and Josh Geer, but with both of them not having much success, the Padres were forced to look at trades or at the waiver wire to get something done.

So, Padres' General Manager Kevin Towers would bring in right-handers Kevin Correia, Walter Silva and Shawn Hill.

Kevin Correia pitched for the San Francisco Giants from 2003 - 2008, going between being a starter to coming out of the bullpen. After career highs in appearances (59) and a career best ERA (3.45) in 2007, Correia struggled in 2008, finishing with a 3-8 record and a 6.05 ERA in 25 games (19 starts).

Walter Silva, on the other hand, wouldn't have been on this had it not been for the brothers Gonzalez. During the World Baseball Classic, Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez were teammates with Silva and were impressed with what they saw from him. They called Kevin Towers and told him that Silva would be worth a look. Towers and Manager Bud Black were also impressed and eventually gave him the shot that landed him in the Padres' starting rotation.

Shawn Hill could be the better of the three pitchers added to the rotation. Hill was picked up by the Padres after being released by the Washington Nationals and didn't let the Padres down with a good first start against the San Francisco Giants. The right-hander gave up just two runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out three through his five innings of work, getting the victory in a 7-3 Padres win.

With the rotation seemingly filled out, it was the bullpen that needed to be addressed. The Padres brought in guys like former Mets' reliever Duaner Sanchez and guys most fans have never heard of like Luke Gregerson, Edwin Moreno and Edward Mujica. But regardless of how well we know these guys or how little we know about them, they have gotten the job done for the San Diego Padres. They held close leads, they've gotten those leads to closer Heath Bell or have been able to close out games where Bell wasn't needed.

It's been one guy doing his job and allowing the next guy to do his, a team effort that has led the Padres to four straight wins as they head into Citi Field for a 3-game set with the New York Mets. The Padres may not be stronger offensively than the Mets, but if they pitch like this team has against the Dodgers and Giants, it could be a very good series.

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