It’s mid-summer in San Diego. The air is balmy and the sea breeze is blowing gently through Petco park. There is a special section out in the bleachers for people to bring their dogs, and people to watch over your best friend while you go for a beer. The fish tacos are even better at the park, and the beer is allegedly less overpriced there than at other Major League venues. (The last I find hard to believe.)
The Padres are in first place in their division, because they are almost unbeatable at home. The first year in the new park there was a lot of whining from Padre’s hitters, but this year I don’t think you’ll be hearing any complaints.
Yesterday, a lovely Monday, the park was filled to 98% capacity for the first game of a series against the evil Los Angeles Dodgers. Jake Peavy was on the mound for the good guys – he had been held back a day in the rotation so he could pitch against the division rivals. I suspect very few teams (St. Louis doesn’t count – they’re just nuts there) are getting that kind of turnout at this point in the season.
And pitch Jake did. He allowed two hits and no runs over eight innings. He was crafty, using change-ups more than usual, and had the Dodgers drilling themselves into the ground, cartoon-style. The crowd, I read, was going nuts for the entire game.
Peavey needed every bit of that craft as well. The other pitcher was also in fine form, and when the dust cleared the Padres were the winners, 1-0. The Padres are winning the close games so far this year. I love those games. One little slip is the difference between victory and defeat. One hanging curve ball, one bad throw to first, and that’s it. The fans feel it, too, and celebrate every strikeout and good defensive play. Those are great days to be at the park.