Home Ballpark (multi-year Park Factors): Petco Park (91/91)
Who's Replacing Whom:
Tad Iguchi replaces Marcus Giles
Jody Gerut replaces Jim Edmonds, who replaced Mike Cameron
Edgar Gonzalez replaces Geoff Blum
Paul McAnulty inherits Jose Cruz Jr.'s playing time
Tony Clark replaces Russell Branyan
Justin Huber replaces Terrmel Sledge
Scott Hairston inherits Milton Bradley's playing time
Michael Barrett is replacing Josh Bard (DL) in the lineup
Luke Carlin is filling in for Barrett on the bench
Edgar Gonzalez is replacing Tad Iguchi (DL) in the lineup
Craig Stansberry is filling in for Gonzalez on the bench
Randy Wolf replaces David Wells and Clay Hensley
Josh Banks replaces Justin Germano, Brett Tomko, and Jack Cassel
Cha Seung Baek is filling in for Chris Young (DL)
Bryan Corey replaces Doug Brocail
Mike Adams replaces Scott Linebrink and Joe Thatcher
Carlos Guevara is filling in for Kevin Cameron (DL)
1B - Adrian Gonzalez (L)
2B - Edgar Gonzalez (R)
SS - Khalil Greene (R)
3B - Kevin Kouzmanoff (R)
C - Michael Barrett (R)
RF - Brian Giles (L)
CF - Jody Gerut (L)
LF - Paul McAnulty (L)
S - Tony Clark (1B)
R - Justin Huber (OF)
R - Scott Hairston (OF)
R - Craig Stansberry (IF)
S - Luke Carlin (C)
R - Jake Peavy
R - Josh Banks
R - Cha Seung Baek
R - Greg Maddux
L - Randy Wolf
R - Trevor Hoffman
R - Heath Bell
R - Cla Meredith
L - Justin Hampson
R - Bryan Corey
R - Mike Adams
R - Carlos Guevara
15-day DL: R - Tadahito Iguchi (2B), S - Josh Bard (C), R - Chris Young, L - Shawn Estes, R- Kevin Cameron
60-day DL: R - Mark Prior, R - Tim Stauffer
L - Jody Gerut (L)
R - Edgar Gonzalez (2B)
L - Brian Giles (RF)
L - Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
R - Kevin Kouzmanoff (3B)
L - Paul McAnulty (LF)
R - Khalil Greene (SS)
R - Michael Barrett (C)
Trevor Hoffman, baseball's career saves leader, has surpassed former record holder Lee Smith's career mark by more than 60 saves, but the events of last fall may have established a very different legacy for the Padres' closer. On September 29 of last season, Hoffman was on the mound in Milwaukee's Miller Park, one strike away from clinching the Padres' third-straight playoff berth. Instead, he gave up history's most ironic game-tying triple to Tony Gwynn Jr. as the Padres went on to lose in eleven innings. Two nights later, Hoffman got a second chance. In a one-game playoff to decide the NL Wild Card, the Padres and Rockies had been knotted at 6-6 since the Padres rallied to tie the game in the eighth. Finally, in the top of the 13th, San Diego pulled ahead 8-6, and manager Bud Black handed the ball to Hoffman for the final three outs. Hoffman barely got any. The first three men he faced picked up extra base hits to tie the game, then, after an intentional walk to Todd Helton, Hoffman finally got the first out of the inning and the final out of the Padres season on a season-ending sac fly by Colorado futility infielder Jamey Carroll.
After twice coming so incredibly close to the postseason in 2007, the Padres quickly sank to the bottom of the AL West standings in 2008, bottoming out on May 24 with an 18-33 (.353) record, 12 games behind the defending division champion Diamondbacks. Hoffman isn't to blame for the Padres struggles this year, and he received undo blame for the team's inability to put away their Wild Card opponents earlier in the 2007 season, but those two season-altering blown saves coming in such quick succession will be hard for most baseball fans to forget, and continue a career-long trend of poor performances in decisive situations. Hoffman's first-ever playoff appearance came when he entered a tie game in the Padres' best-three-out-of-five NLDS series against the Cardinals in 1996. At that point, the Cardinals were leading the series 2-0 and looking to finish a sweep, while the Padres were clinging to life thanks to a game-tying home run by Ken Caminiti in the bottom of the eighth. Hoffman walked the second man he faced and gave up a two-run home run to the third. Half an inning later, the Padres' season was over.
The Padres returned to the playoffs in 1998 and Hoffman picked up a win and three saves as the Friars made their way to the World Series against the Yankees. In Game 3 of that series, Hoffman entered in the eighth inning to protect a one-run Padres lead after Randy Myers had walked leadoff batter Paul O'Neill. Just as in 1996, Hoffman walked the second batter he faced and gave up a decisive home run to the third (Series MVP Scott Brosius). The Yankees would win that game and the next to sweep the Padres.
Seven years passed before the Padres got back to the postseason. Hoffman did no harm in the team's 2005 and 2006 NLDS losses, pitching one scoreless inning in each, but 2007 brought the bad memories of 1996 and 1998 flooding back.
It's worth mentioning that Hoffman has faced the Yankees just three times in his 16-year career. The first was that 1998 World Series appearance. The second saw him retire two of the three batters he faced in an interleague loss to the 2002 edition of the Bombers. The last was a game in 2004 which both Alex and I attended. In that game, Hoffman got the ball in the ninth with a 2-0 lead following a taught pitching duel between Javy Vazquez and David Wells, making his return to the stadium. This time Hoffman got the first two outs, but Hideki Matsui cracked one straight over my head in the right field bleachers to cut the lead in half and Kenny Lofton followed immediately with a game-tying pinch-hit tater. The Yanks went on to win in 12.
I'm spending all this time on Hoffman because the interaction of his failures with both the biggest moments in the last 15 years of Padres history and the Yankees is far more interesting than the Padres team he joins in the Bronx tonight. The good news for the Pads is that they've pulled their nose up a bit, going 13-7 since May 25, though facing the lowly Nats and Giants and taking advantage of the foundering Mets at Petco with a four game sweep in which they outscored the Mutts by just five runs total had a lot to do with that. The Pads are 3-3 since the Mets left town and are 3-3 on the road over that stretch. On the season they've managed to make good use of their home park, going 20-18 in there spacious stadium, but they've been an abysmal 11-22 (.333) on the road, where their team ERA spikes by 1.73 runs, but their offense fails to respond, scoring just 0.11 more runs per game in more run-friendly environments.
That said, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (.328/.372/.635 on the road) is a major threat and a budding superstar, 37-year-old Brian Giles seems to have found the fountain of youth (.345/.444/.487 on the road), and facing Jake Peavy tomorrow night won't be much fun, even if Darrell Rasner rebounds from his shaky outing in Oakland.
Tonight, is a battle of veteran lefties as Andy Pettitte faces off against Randy Wolf. Wolf has been great in his last six starts (3-1, 39 1/3 IP, 33 H, 6 BB, 35 K, 2.29 ERA), but four of those came at home and he has a 5.31 road ERA on the season. Pettitte dominated the A's in his last start, but has been inconsistent all year and has a 6.25 ERA in six home starts this season.
With Shelley Duncan in Scranton and Morgan Ensberg having recently signed with Cleveland, Girardi has made no consessions to the lefty in his lineup tonight, though the Yankees have added one to the bullpen by bringing back Billy Traber to take Chien-Ming Wang's spot as Dan Giese moves into the rotation. Pete Abe says Traber has a new slider. He doesn't say if it's a better slider.
Mussina wrote "The ice cream is back" on his message board. The Moose made a deal with Girardi that if he got to 10 wins, they'd put the ice cream freezer back in the player lounge. Now there are incentives for 12 wins (donuts) and 15 (candy, maybe).
Mussina went on one of his Dennis Miller-riffs on how he's pitched well for so long on Mountain Dew, donuts and M&Ms. It was very funny.