A week an a half ago the San Diego Padres had a six and a half game lead in the NL West after a three game winning streak. They had won thirteen of sixteen games and all of us who follow baseball finally accepted that we were wrong and that the Padres weren't going to fold. At that point the Cardinals were closer to the Reds than any team in the NL West was to the Padres. All the Padres had to do was finish the rest of the year at a .500 clip and they were in. Imagine that! The Padres were going to win! Except now that conviction is a whole lot shakier. The long awaited collapse is happening right before our eyes.
Since that day (August 25), the Padres have lost nine straight. Nine straight. That's a lot. That's Pittsburgh-like. Their pitching, which amazed all of us has given up 51 runs in those nine games or 5.6 runs per game. That's not a lot in the grand scheme of today's Major League Baseball, but for the Padres' offense, that is probably three runs per game too much. The Padres have scored 21 runs during those nine losses, or 2.3 runs a game. Yup, they have given up three runs a game too much.
Bad hitting teams can survive if the pitching is outstanding. And for most of the year, the Padres' pitching has been outstanding. But in the last nine games, it's only been ordinary and with that offense, ordinary isn't good enough. The starting pitchers have lost seven of those nine games. Garland has lost twice. Correia has lost twice. Richard lost one. LeBlanc lost one and Luebke lost one. Relief pitchers have lost two of the other games. Gregorson lost one and Frieri lost the other.
But again, you really can't blame the pitching. Will Venable is 1 for his last 23. Ryan Ludwick is 7 for his last 35 with one extra base hit (a double). Adrian Gonzalez has only hit one extra base hit (a double) in his last eight games. Chase Headley is 1 for his last 12 and has only one extra base hit in eight games. Chris Denorfia is 5 for 25 during the losing streak. Everth Cabrera has had to play too many games at short lately and with his .210 batting average and 63 OPS+, that's not a good thing.
And so, the point is beaten to death that the Padres are in a heap of trouble when their pitchers give up more than two runs. Now the Giants are only two and a half game back from the Padres in the standings and have gained four games since the losing streak began. The Padres are fortunate that the Giants haven't exactly been wowing people lately.
The trouble with a losing streak like this is that it starts eating its young. The media picks up on it and that is the only questions the players will hear. The Padres have to find a way to suck it up and win a few games to rebuild a little of their lead or we could be watching something pretty historic. And it's not really the kind of history we wanted to see.