Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kemp, Padres roll to big win over Rockies

Remember that season-opening scoreless drought? As far as the Padres are concerned, it's ancient history at this point.
The San Diego offense responded emphatically from its early season struggles, reaching new heights in a 16-3 victory over the Rockies on Saturday night. With 29 runs in their past two games, the Padres set a franchise scoring record for a two-game stretch. Not bad for a club that opened the season with a 30-inning scoreless streak.
"You've seen what we've done these last two games -- we've got a lot of really good hitters here," said Padres first baseman Wil Myers, who hit a mammoth home run to straightaway center in the ninth. "The only people that were panicking were people outside the clubhouse."
Matt Kemp swatted two homers -- his fourth career multi-homer game against the Rockies and second at Coors Field -- and drove in six runs. Cory Spangenberg launched the second of the Padres' four homers with a three-run shot off Jorge De La Rosa, who gave up seven runs in four innings.
"There's nothing wrong with him physically," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of De La Rosa. "It looked like a struggle, mostly, throughout -- second inning-on."
The run production made a winner of one-time Rockies lefty Drew Pomeranz (1-0), who struck out seven and gave up two runs in five innings.
"Everything was working pretty good," Pomeranz said. "Fastball location both sides, cutter, changeup, curveball -- was all really good tonight."
The crowd of 35,177 also witnessed the first Major League game in which Rockies rookie shortstop Trevor Story did not homer. His homers in the first four games tied him with Willie Mays (1971), Mark McGwire (1998), Nelson Cruz (2011) and Chris Davis (2013) for longest such streak to begin a season.
Can't stop Kemp: No hitter has more at-bats against De La Rosa than Kemp -- and no hitter has had quite as much success against the veteran left-hander, either. With his two home runs Saturday, Kemp is now batting .471 with seven homers and 14 extra-base hits in 51 at-bats against De La Rosa. More >
April is the cruelest month: The last three years, De La Rosa has posted first-month ERAs of 4.18, 5.23 and 11.57. So this year's 12.46 in two starts may disappoint the Rockies' fans, but it shouldn't surprise them. The low point came before the runs. In a second inning that saw him walk the bases loaded, he needed nine pitches to retire Pomeranz on a grounder to the mound. Afterward, De La Rosa burst through the Rockies' clubhouse door and was unavailable to reporters. De La Rosa wasn't alone in his struggles. The bullpen has had trouble taking innings the starters couldn't cover, and the team has a 9.20 ERA.
"A lot can be done," Rockies catcher Nick Hundley said. "We can call better pitches. We can execute locations better, up and down the staff and throughout the bullpen. We can put ourselves in better positions to be successful. We can get ahead, make it easy on ourselves.
"There are a lot of things we can do. It's early and we've got to stay positive. You're not going to go hang your head in the sand. It's April 9. We've got to go out and go grind."
A first for everything: Padres rookie Jabari Blash picked up his first Major League hit Saturday evening, a pinch-hit laser into the left-center field gap. Blash, known for his prodigious power, is a Rule 5 selection, who spent the previous six seasons in the Mariners organization, before making his big league debut Monday. Off the bat, the ball looked like it had a chance to leave the yard, before hopping against the wall.
"The first thought in my head was, 'Dang, you couldn't even get it out at Coors Field?'" Blash said with a wry grin.
More of this, please: Rockies righty Miguel Castro is a weapon, if the team can give him a lead. In the seventh, Weiss gave him some work and he delivered his 96-98 mph fastball and 81 mph slider in a spotless inning. On the final pitch, a 98 mph fastball, the Padres' Carlos Villanueva was stepping out of the box as plate umpire Jim Joyce was calling strike three to end an eight-pitch inning. Castro returned for the next inning and struck out Jon JayMelvin Upton Jr. and Kemp.
"We have everything. We have table-setters. We have speed. We have some thump in the middle of the lineup, righties lefties. We're a pretty balanced offense." - Spangenberg said.
"Offensively, I guess we don't score between one and nine runs a game." - Padres manager Andy Green said.
"We need to play better baseball, I need to play better baseball. It's kind of hard for me to talk about because I'm not really doing my job great right now. I know it's early, but these things can't happen. We understand it's a long road, but we need to make sure we nip this in the bud and stop having games like this." -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, hitting .158 in 19 at-bats.
With his six RBIs on Saturday night, Kemp has now driven in 10 runs this series -- a career high. Plus, he still has Sunday's finale to set a bit of Padres history. The franchise record for RBIs in a three-game set is 11, accomplished by Ryan Klesko in May 2001 against Houston.
The Rockies gained a key out in the third when Upton was originally called safe at second, after being caught on De La Rosa's pickoff move to first base. Replay showed that first baseman Mark Reynolds' throw and second baseman DJ LeMahieu's tag were in time. The call held Kemp's first homer to a solo shot.
The Rockies succeeded on another challenge in the sixth, when replay showed that Reynolds stayed in contact with the bag while receiving reliever Jason Gurka's throw on Spangenberg's soft comebacker.
Colorado made it a replay challenge hat trick in the sixth, when a review showed that LeMahieu's throw beat Derek Norris to the bag to end the inning.
Padres: James Shields takes the hill a day earlier than expected because of Tyson Ross' shoulder injury -- but on normal rest thanks to Thursday's off-day. Shields is 6-1 lifetime against the Rockies and was sharp in his first start of the season. But one rough inning did him in, and he took the loss against the Dodgers.
Rockies: Righty Chad Bettis struggled after being given a four-run lead at Arizona in his first outing. He'll face the Padres at Coors Field (where he was 4-3 with a 4.99 ERA in 11 starts last year) in the series finale Sunday at 2:10 p.m.

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