We had to ask, even if knowing the answer.
“We’re not,” Padres manager Pat Murphy said. OK, scratch the notion Murphy is plucking San Diego’s lineup from his hat. But after two days of strikeout-prone Matt Kemp leading off and an afternoon of pitcher James Shields in the No. 8 hole, it was worth an inquiry.
“Hope we never get to that point,” Murphy said.
But as the Padres’ charter points toward San Diego, many wonder where they’re headed.
The Padres dropped Thursday’s game, 13-8, to the Giants, and the three-game series to cap a 3-5 road trip. The results weren’t San Francisco groovy and we’re doubting this being the Padres’ summer of love.
“It’s pretty easy for all of you, and for all of us, to see the types of things that start to need to happen,” Murphy said.
The Padres’ eye test is one they seldom pass. They’ve been shut out a Major League-high 11 times, only seven fewer than last season. Their defense waffles between decent and dreadful. The starting pitching is sporadic and that was before the Giants batted Shields around like a piñata on Cinco de Mayo. He allowed a season-high seven runs in four-plus innings.
“I was making my pitches but unfortunately it didn’t work out for me,” Shields said.
And San Diego’s base running? Child, please.
What’s up with your bunch, Murphy, which is a season-worst five games under .500 and sinking in the National League West?
“Me having the knowledge of it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s me getting it to them and them believing in it going forward and having that as their intent. Once that is their intent, they will execute every time.”
The time is now or haven’t you noticed general manager A.J. Preller’s shelf-life with skippers? The time is now for a fan base which is equal parts bummed, bewildered and befuddled. Which brings us back to Murphy’s leap from Triple-A after replacing Bud Black on June 15…
Since Preller punched Black’s ejection button, the reeling Padres are a minus-31 in run differential.
Many a minor-league prospect flops at this level and could the same be true with a manager?
“I’m not saying, ‘Hey, I’m ready, I know what I’m doing,'” Murphy said. “But I have a lot of great experiences that make me feel not real nervous and kind of intent on what needs to be done.”
Maybe the worm turns for the Padres on Friday against Arizona, when starting a six-game home stand. Maybe it never does and after a week-plus of Murph Ball, many have reservations.
“You guys writing me off after eight days?” Murphy asked. “So this is the start of it, bury Murphy?”
Not exactly and maybe home cooking is the Padres’ tonic.
But regardless how you mix it, the Padres aren’t maximizing their talents. Or were we sold an opening-day lemon and these sour results are expected?
The Padres are 3-7 under Murphy and Tuesday’s win goes to bench coach Dave Roberts after Murphy was tossed. Someone also noted Triple-A El Paso is 6-1 since Murphy departed.
“It shows I was horse (crap) there,” Murphy said with a smile.
That’s a stretch. What isn’t is the Padres looking worse under Murphy than with Black on the bridge. That can change, like a summer wind, and Murphy thinks it will.
“It still comes down to playing winning baseball,” Murphy said. “And guys at this level have to be able to do certain things.”
That goes for the rookie skipper, too.
“We’re sputtering along,” Murphy said. “There is a lot of tension, pressure and frustration out there. Things haven’t gone our way and we haven’t played good.”
The Padres’ hope is this isn’t as good as it gets.