Former East County Standout Pitchers Started Two of the Three Games
by Christopher Mohr
August 8, 2011 (San Diego) - The 2011 season has been a frustrating season for the San Diego Padres to say the least. After a 2010 season that saw the team finish one game out of the playoffs, this year's team struggles in last place with a 51-64 record, 12 games back from the NL West leading San Francisco Giants.
It comes as a pleasant surprise when the Padres are able to sweep an opponent in their ball park as they did this past weekend in a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Adding to the surprise was the comfortable margin of these victories with scores of 15-5, 13-2 and 7-3.
The sweep dealt a huge blow to the Pirates' playoff hopes. They had a share of the NL Central division lead on July 24 and considered themselves contenders when they traded for former Padre slugger Ryan Ludwick before the July 31 no-waiver trade deadline.
What a difference two weeks makes. The Pirates are now in the midst of a 10-game losing streak, are five games below .500 with a 54-59 record and are 10 games behind the division leading Milwaukee Brewers. With fewer than 50 games left in the season and three teams the Pirates have to pass to regain the division lead, a playoff run is at best improbable.
Former East County pitching standout Aaron Harang started the first game of the series Friday night (August 5) for the Padres. It was not a stellar performance for the Patrick Henry High School and SDSU alum, but good enough to win: five innings with four earned runs, 13 hits and three walks to improve his overall record to 10-3.
The way the Padres' batters hit, Harang did not need a stellar performance to win. Chase Headley hit a grand slam and Kyle Blanks, who has spent much of the 2011 season recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, hit his first home run of the season. The 15-run outburst was the most runs the Padres have scored in any game this season.
The scoring rampage continued for the Padres in the second game. Blanks hit a grand slam and a triple, batting in a total five runs. Orlando Hudson had a three-hit game while starter Cory Leubke pitched a gem, giving up just one run in seven innings with nine strikeouts.
Another pitcher with East County ties started the third game of the series, only this time it was a Pirate. Kevin Correia, who attended Grossmont High School and Grossmont College, pitched for the Padres from 2009-2010, but signed with the Pirates for the 2011 season. He faced former teammate Mat Latos, who has struggled in 2011 after an impressive 2010 season.
It was Latos who prevailed in this matchup as the right-hander gave up only two runs in seven-plus innings. Compared to the previous two games, Correia was able to slow down the Padre hitters, but not enough to avoid the three game sweep. He gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings and his record dropped to 12-10 with the loss.
No one homered for the Friars, but Blanks continued to hit well, adding two hits, while Will Venable had a three-hit game to close out the series.
The Padres travel to New York to face the Mets in a four game series and follow that with a three game series in Cincinnati before returning home to face the Mets again.
It doesn't get any easier for the Pirates against their upcoming opponents. They travel to NL West leader San Francisco for three games, then to NL Central leader Milwaukee for three more games before they return home to face the St. Louis Cardinals, currently second place in the NL Central, three games behind Milwaukee.
Christopher is a freelance writer in the San Diego area and is an avid fan of the Chargers, Padres and Red Wings.