Leave it to the San Diego Padres to find creative ways to lose. First, it was a 1-0 loss to the Houston Astros on a blooper, on Thursday it’s a 7-0 loss at Petco Park to the San Francisco Giants with a pinch-hitter recording the team’s only hit.
The lone hit came from Clayton Richard, who was pinch-hitting for Bryan Mitchell at the bottom of the third. Richard singled on a blooper over Giants second baseman Joe Panik. What was supposed to the Padres rally, who was down 3-0 at that point, quickly fizzled when Richard was tagged out on a double play off a Franch Cordero line drive to third base.
“He’s a hitting pitcher that we like right now,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “He’s swung the bat well, and we have a relatively thin bench, a four-man bench, and it’s the third inning of a ballgame. So you’re looking for somebody who can get on base in that situation. He did it. Without it, it’d be a lot different story tonight.”
The different story would be another Giants no-hitter against the Padres. Instead, Richard became the only pitcher to record the team’s lone hit in the Padres’ history and the first pitcher pinch-hitter in the modern era of baseball (since 1900). The last time a pitcher record a team’s only hit in a game he didn’t start was 83 years ago when Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Mace Brown did it on June 28, 1935.
Other than Richard, Giants right-hander Chris Stratton held the Padres hitless over seven innings. Reliever Derek Law closed out the game with a perfect last two frames.
“I don’t think at any point in time today could you look at our at-bats and think they were good,” Green said. “This was not a good baseball game.”
Padres starter Mitchell had his worst game of the season, so far, Thursday. The right-hander threw 61 pitches with only 32 strikes and recorded two swing-and-misses. He walked three batters in the first inning and two in the second. Mitchell lasted three frames before being pulled.
“You’re not going to walk five guys in three innings in the major leagues and be successful,” Green said. “The challenge is out in front of him. We believe in his stuff. We believe in what he can do. It’s time to do it.”