Growing pains times two

FORT WAYNE: Joel Santo and Fabian Jimenez have as much upside as any Padres' pitchers within the organization. Both are young, have smooth mechanics, throw in the low to mid-90's...and both are still learning how to pitch which was evident on consecutive nights at the Castle in Fort Wayne.

Tonight's game eerily mirrored last night's performance as third baseman Seth Johnston opened the first inning with a double into the right field gap and left fielder Will Venable drove him in with an RBI single.

In the top of the second two stolen bases by Whitecaps shortstop Mike Holliman, led to West Michigan tying the game on a sacrifice fly by their third baseman Cory Middleton.

As with the last night, the Wizards imploded in the fourth inning as Santo had trouble locating the strike zone [Santo had 9 three-ball counts during the course of the game] and allowed four hits and three runs, as the Whitecaps broke the game open.

Santo's final line said it all, 5 innings pitched, 9 hits and 6 runs.

"Its not from lack of effort, but sometime the light is going to have to go on. They just have to work on pitching more efficiently. You have to continue to make progress, but they have to become more consistent. That is why you are in the minor leagues, to get to that level of consistency," said Wizards' manager Randy Ready after the game.

The Wizards put together a late rally in the eighth inning when right fielder Mike Baxter led off with tough chopper to the second baseman, who proceeded to airmail it into the first base seats. First baseman Kyle Blanks then followed with an infield single off of the Whitecaps pitcher. Venable, the next batter, was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases with one out in the inning.

With two outs, backup catcher Brandon Gottier, who had doubled earlier in the game, hit an 0-2 fastball into the right center gap for his second double of the game to drive in three runners. The inning ended when Gottier was thrown out at third base trying to advance on a passed ball.

Ready afterward praised the performance of Gottier.

"He knows that he is the backup, but he works hard and is always maintaining his skills. I try to get him in the lineup a couple of times a week. He's just got to continue to work hard because its like I tell all my guys you never know when the phone is going to ring and someone is going to get moved up, get hurt or get traded."

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