Thursday, May 21, 2009

Padres-Giants: Defense Highlights Padres' Fifth Straight Win

Leave it to Heath Bell to provide the highlight play of the night. The one guy you don't really expect to make noteworthy defensive plays, did just that last night as he closed out his eleventh save in as many chances, suring up the Padres' 2-1 win over the Giants. It was San Diego's fifth straight win.

In the top half of of the ninth, with one out, Giants' second baseman Emmanuel Burriss hit a chopper high in the air off of home plate. Bell waited underneath it, grabbed it barehanded out of the air and fired a strike to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for the second out of the inning.

Bell told, that he knew he'd only have one play on the ball and it would have to be a good throw to get Burriss. "I thought to myself, I have to catch it and throw it [at once]. I did not want to throw it down the line. Eck said he jumped 20 feet in the air. I might watch the replay, not for the throw but for Eck jumping."

Speaking of Padres' second baseman David Eckstein, he might have saved the game an inning earlier. With newly called up Greg Burke on the mound in the seventh and Aaron Rowand on second base with two outs, Pablo Sandoval grounded just to the right of second base. Eckstein made a diving stop and was able to throw Sandoval out to end the inning, keeping Rowand from scoring the tying run.

Give credit to the Padre pitchers last night, because despite four hits for San Diego one of which was the go ahead home run from Kevin Kouzmanoff in the fourth inning, the Giants were kept off the board after their lone run in the second inning.

Chad Gaudin had one of his best performances of the season, giving up just one run on five hits, walking four and striking out three through his six innings of work, picking up his first win of the season. After Gaudin departed, relievers Greg Burke, Luke Gregerson and Heath Bell combined for three shutout innings, giving up just one hit.

Though this team has been playing a lot better since the team shakeup at the beginning of this win streak, there is still more to do and more to address. The one player that could be on the chopping block, and hasn't helped himself that much over the last few days, is right fielder Brian Giles. After getting at least one hit in six straight games from May 10 - May 16, Giles has gone 0-for-6 in his last two games. If this continues, it wouldn't surprise me if the Padres start both Hairston and Gerut in the lineup and start playing Giles in a reserve role.

The Padres and Giants will close out their three game set tonight from Petco Park. Former Giant Kevin Correia (1-2, 5.06) will pitch against his former team who will have their ace, Tim Lincecum (3-1, 3.75) on the hill.

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