Justin Germano debut, Dennis Tankersley Relief

Justin Germano made his debut on Saturday and made just a few mistakes. A three run homer from hot-hitting Chase Utley was the big blow, but Germano pitched well on a muggy night in Philadelphia, a hostile place to open your career. Dennis Tankersley came on in relief and there was no repeat of 2003.<br><br> "The biggest thing was my adrenaline," Germano said. "It was a little too high."

Justin Germano's night did not start like he had hoped. His one-two-three inning wasn't in the cards. The first pitch he threw was smacked up the middle for a single. After a pop out he walked the next batter.

Then his young career was defined.

It was poise that brought Justin Germano up to the Big Leagues and it may be poise that keeps him there. With two runners on in the first, Germano went to his well, a changeup that starts over the middle of the plate and dips in and out of the zone on right handers. With only one out, Germano struck out Pat Burrell on the pitch. The next batter, Chase Utley grounded meekly to second to end the inning.

A full count 12-to-6 curveball in the second was just another one of those moments you don't expect from a rookie. Yet, that is exactly what he threw to David Bell to get him swinging.

"Fastball, curveball, changeup," Germano said of his repertoire. "I am considered a finesse pitcher. I don't go out there and blow by guys and get a lot of strikeouts more of just hitting spots. I just go after hitters and try to get them to put the ball in play and get themselves out."

It wasn't until the third that Germano made that inevitable rookie mistake. On an 0-2 count where Germano threw two hooks to Bobby Abreu to start the pitch sequence, Ramon Hernandez made camp on the outside portion of the plate, well off the plate. Germano tossed a fastball that went over the middle of the plate and Abreu sliced it into the gap to drive in one.

Chase Utley followed with a three run homer, a ball that Utley was able to extend his arms on and crack into the right field seats. It was then that Major League hitters started to understand how to hit him. Germano was throwing perhaps a few too many hooks and Mike Lieberthal smoked a two strike curve for a double. Another strike out ended the inning.

Germano allowed one runner in the fourth and fifth, both on walks, getting a double play in the fifth to keep the Phillies off the scoreboard after Abreu led off with a walk and getting a ground out in the fourth after allowing a two out walk.

Three walks in the top half of the sixth loaded the bases for Ramon Hernandez. 14-for-46 with the bases loaded. A slow topper to the pitcher looked like an easy double play. Brian Giles coming down the third base line broke up a double play for the second time this week. Giles slid into Lieberthal and took out his legs as Lieberthal attempted to throw the ball to first. The ball sailed well into left field and Ryan Klesko and Jay Payton came in to score to give the Padres a 5-4 lead.

What it did was give Germano a chance for his first major league win and one that he eventually got when the Padres closed the game out. Dennis Tankersley came on in relief to begin the bottom of the sixth.

Germano threw 96 pitches, 55 strikes. In five innings he allowed five hits, walked four, and gave up four runs, all earned. He faced 23 batters and split his outs evenly with five ground ball outs, five in the air and five via strikeout.

"I didn't feel tired at all," Germano said. "I think that has been one of my strong points. I have been considered an innings eater. Throwing a bunch of innings, I didn't feel tired at all. I felt pretty good."

The first batter Tank faced struck out on a hanging breaking ball after throwing two heaters to open the at bat. After a fly out, he gave up a single but struck out the next batter. For Tank, it was a much better outing than his previous stint.

In the only game he appeared in at the Major League level in '03, Tankersley allowed seven runs on three hits and four walks without recording an out. It was a game he started and he was never seen again…until this year.

Tankersley was lifted after an inning in favor of Rod Beck. For Tankersley, this was a huge confidence builder. He spent a lot of time this offseason with pitching coach Darren Balsley and the impact has been seen this year. Several teams called to inquire about his availability and were told by the Padres that they were not interested in dealing him this offseason.

Second chances can change the face of a prospect and make him a Major League ballplayer.

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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