Game 25: Petco Park, San Diego, CA
Cincinnati Reds vs San Diego Padres – Monday, July 29, 2o13
We flew out of Seattle yesterday morning and arrived in San Diego around 12:30 PM. We then took a shuttle to our hotel, but our room was not ready yet. So we dropped off our bags and walked over to the Gaslamp Quarter to get something to eat at San Diego’s Hard Rock Café. By the time we returned from lunch, we were able to check-in to our room. We were really exhausted and took turns taking a nap and working on the Mariners blog. Finally, around 5:30 in the evening, we posted the blog and walked to PETCO Park that was only a mile or so away from the hotel.
We got to the ballpark about an hour before game time. So we walked outside, took pictures, bought a Padres cap and ball, and then went inside. As we walked in, we saw the statue of Padres manager/broadcaster Jerry Coleman in his airman gear. The inside of the park is really beautiful. We saw kids playing softball on a miniature playing field near a grassy knoll, on top of which was the statue of Padres great Tony Gwynn. We also saw a street named after Gwynn outside the stadium.
We finally walked over to our seats that were located just six rows back from the right field line about half way between first base and the wall. The view was awesome and we could see the players really close up. It was cool to see the Padres right fielder playing catch between innings with the ball girl. When the lineups were announced, we were surprised that the Reds were playing without two of their super stars, Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips. This sure seemed like a different team than the one we saw just a few days ago in LA. But Padres starter and San Diego native Sean O’Sullivan was all over the place and lived dangerously as he struggled to throw strikes. After getting the first two hitters out in the first inning, he gave up a double and then walked two to load the bases. Somehow, he managed to get out of that jam. In the third inning, his defense bailed him out as right fielder Will Venable leapt up to grab an incredible catch to rob Jay Bruce. It reminded us of the spectacular catch that Endy Chavez made for the Mariners the day before. O’Sullivan didn’t seem to have much on his fastball and his balls to strike ratio was not good at all. Yet, he managed to hang around for six innings giving up just one run. The Reds scored in the fifth when Derrick Robinson led off the inning with a triple, and then beat out a throw to the plate after Cesar Izturis hit a grounder to first. It looked like the 1-0 lead might stand up after all as the Reds held the Friars scoreless through eight innings. Seven of those were pitched by starter Mike Leake, who is also a San Diego native. Leake, too, looked shaky at the beginning, but settled down after the third.
Then came the improbable bottom of the ninth with flame-throwing All Star closer Aroldis Chapman on the mound. We saw Chapman last Thursday in LA and he was unhittable. Here again he was pumping fastballs in triple digits. He was, however, missing his spots. After a gritty seven-pitch at bat, Yonder Alonso worked a lead-off walk. Next up was Chris Denorfia who was inserted as a pinch-hitter by manager Bud Black. Denorfia squared up on the very first pitch he saw, a 98 mph fastball, and launched it over the center field wall for a walk-off, two-run deep fly that sent the fans into cheers and set off fireworks. This was Denorfia’s first career walk-off home run and it was estimated to have travelled 423 feet, a new PETCO Park record for a walk-off homer. Chapman and the Reds were stunned as the Friars came from behind to beat them 2-1. We also got to see our first walk-off big fly! How about that?!
There must have been some kind of weird celestial alignment on this night because we found out later that there were two other walk-off home runs and a walk-off triple elsewhere in the majors (including a solo shot by Jason Giambi for the Tribe)!
After the third inning, we walked around the ballpark and took more pictures from different spots. The attendance was low, reflecting the Padres’ standing this season, so we had, pretty much, a free run of the place. We could sit just about anywhere we wanted as we went around. It’s a pity, though, that there were not more people at the game. We really liked PETCO. The place seemed opulent with spacious concourses and a wide selection of food and drinks. There didn’t seem to be a single bad seat in the house.
Following the game, we walked back to our hotel, downloaded the pictures, and called it a night. Tomorrow, we head home. We’ll catch up with you from there. Cheers!