Padres’ youth giveth, taketh away in loss to Pirates
The Padres’ youth gave them an early lead Tuesday at PNC Park. The Padres’ youth took it away later the same evening.
Following a 36-minute rain delay, the unbalancing of scales resulted in a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the kind of loss that tends to happen when a roster has been stripped of its most expensive and longest-running parts. For the Padres, who unloaded much of their experience before the trade deadline, August and September are all about education.
Alex Dickerson and Jabari Blash, rookies currently auditioning at San Diego’s corner-outfield positions, each scalded a baseball in the top of the first, each hit driving in a run. Dickerson, a former Pirates prospect, lined a double over the head of center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Two batters later, Blash ripped a single into center.
Ahead 2-0, the Padres wouldn’t score again until Wil Myers homered in the eighth, leaving much of their fate in the right hand of a rookie pitcher. Luis Perdomo preserved the lead for three innings, relinquished it in the fourth and unraveled in the fifth. The 23-year-old was solid and shaky in the same start, a reminder that progress — and Perdomo has made lots of it — is not always linear.
Perdomo, who has gone from overwhelmed neophyte to arguably the Padres’ top starter, allowed six runs, five earned, over five innings. In the final frame, he missed with an 0-2 pitch. Gregory Polanco untied a 2-2 game with a three-run homer to center.
Polanco, the Pirates’ promising right fielder, managed what has become increasingly difficult against Perdomo. The Padres’ promising right-hander has heeded his coaching staff’s urging to throw his mid-90s sinker over and over.
Gravity has aided Perdomo; opposing batters routinely pound the pitch into infield turf. Tuesday, he induced nine groundouts.
The two flyouts he caused both came off Polanco’s bat. The bottom of the fifth brought a lesson in location. Catcher Derek Norris positioned his glove on the inner half of the plate. Perdomo’s offering ran up and away. Polanco teed off on a 434-foot drive.
Perhaps, Perdomo had been rattled by a call that went against him. Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison had led off the half-inning with an infield single. He had apparently been caught stealing second.
An official review overturned that ruling; the Pirates went from one out and nobody on to one on and nobody out. After a one-out walk, Perdomo surrendered — in succession — Polanco’s home run, two singles and a double. The Pirates assumed a 6-2 lead. A strong relay from second baseman Ryan Schimpf prevented another run from scoring.
Actually, two calls went against Perdomo. In the bottom of the second, the Padres looked as if they had secured a force out of David Freese. The Pirates challenged the ruling. It was determined that Padres shortstop Jose Rondon, another youngster debuting in the majors this season, had not stayed on the second-base bag. Freese jogged back onto the field. Rondon was charged with an error.
Three batters later, an RBI groundout gave the Pirates their first run. In the fourth, Perdomo yielded a leadoff single, then a walk and, with two outs, a game-tying RBI single.
In all, Perdomo allowed nine hits and three walks. He threw 105 pitches, including 35 in the fifth.
The Padres were mostly limited by Pirates rookie Chad Kuhl, who threw six innings of two-run ball.
In the top of the eighth, Myers continued to emerge from his post-break slump. The All-Star first baseman extended his hitting streak to seven games with his 22nd home run of the season.
In the ninth, Blash hammered his second career homer into the left-field seats.