Peoria, AZ: The San Diego Padres Double-A and Triple-A teams were home on Thursday, and it was pitching that ruled the day with impressive performances from quite a few.
In the Triple-A game, Jeremy Hefner could not overcome an error that allowed a run to score in the opening frame. He did give up a pair of singles in his second inning but a double play grounder quickly erased the threat. A double and stolen base put a man on third, but Hefner was again up to the challenge, striking out the final man of the inning in a 47-pitch three-inning effort.
"I was just trying to throw strikes," Hefner said. "Keep the ball down. All of my pitches seemed to be working well."
"Heff pitched well," pitching coach Glenn Abbott said. "He kept the ball down."
Luis Perdomo came on for innings four and five. He retired all six batters he faced on 22 pitches, using a dirty curveball to get a strikeout and working his fastball down to get ground ball outs.
"If he pitched like that every time out, he wouldn't be here (on the minor league side of camp)," Abbott said.
Aaron Poreda walked the first batter he faced but after getting the second out quickly, he induced an inning-ending double play.
It was a 12-pitch inning for the big left-hander, who will be in a relief role with Portland when the season begins.
Bryan Oland gave up a sharp single to open his outing. After a fielder's choice moved the runner to second, a second base knock followed to score a run. He was helped by a caught stealing before the final out came via a ground out.
Ryan Webb, down from the major league side of camp, admitted to having some nerves coming into the game. He even used a bit of smelling salt to clear his head.
A single started things off. After a strikeout, Webb was on the hook for an infield single that put a pair on with one out. He worked out of the inning, however, with two more ground balls to end his 20-pitch inning.
Craig Italiano worked his magic, getting three ground ball outs on 11 pitches. The right-hander, placed on the 40-man this offseason, was very crisp with his fastball and slider.
"Kazmar made a great play on defense," Italiano said. "It was nice getting out of there on 11 pitches. I had been throwing a lot of pitches lately. It was nice to get that quick outing."
Offensively, Sean Kazmar had an RBI double and was eventually thrown out at home on an Anthony Contreras single. Contreras, meanwhile, also tripled with nobody out but was stranded when three men could not drive him in. Contreras was the lone player to record a pair of hits
Mike Baxter and Eric Munson each notched RBI singles, and Cedric Hunter, Chris Stewart and Michael Collins each scored a run.
Chris Fetter began things off for the Double-A squad. He induced three straight ground outs to quickly end the first. A double opened the second and was followed by a run-scoring single on a fastball. That runner was erased on a double play grounder.
Fetter would walk one in his third inning but got his second rally killer of the afternoon and recorded all of his outs via the ground. He used mostly fastball with only a few sliders sprinkled in.
"Every out was a ground ball," Fetter said. "I don't think I have ever done that in my career."
Nick Vincent was more efficient than his 33-pitch count over two innings would indicate. He struck out three and broke two bats – both coming against the same hitter.
"I throw my four-seamer a lot and it naturally cuts," Vincent said. "I felt good out there."
Colt Hynes walked the very first batter he faced – the last man that would touch a base. He retired the next six batters he faced, getting help with a nice diving catch from Dan Robertson.
"I am working on getting my back hip to follow-through," Hynes said. "That is something that I am cognizant of and trying to make sure I do each time out. Everything else feels great. I don't feel like I am throwing as hard but they tell me I am right where I was last year."
Alexis Lara struck out the first man he saw and surrendered a double to the next hitter. He would get the last two outs to preserve a 5-1 lead. It may have been the first time he didn't throw a single changeup.
"I threw just my slider and fastball," Lara said. "No changeups today. It felt pretty good."
Jackson Quezada finished the game out with a perfect ninth.
Beamer Weems doubled in his first at-bat and notched a bunt single later in the game before swiping second base. He also scored a run. Weems was on base with two outs when the Seattle Mariners rolled an inning. They did not begin the next inning with a man on second.
Matt Clark hit a bases loaded single to net a pair of RBI. Robertson also had an RBI, driving in Jesus Lopez on a ground out. He also walked and scored a run.
Mitch Canham had two singles – one of the infield variety – while playing a solid left field. Brad Chalk walked, had a single, was hit by a pitch, and scored a run.
Kellen Kulbacki struck out and grounded into a double play before notching an RBI single and scoring a run.
"I am still working on things at the plate," Kulbacki said. "I am working on my timing and rhythm so I can start the season off right. I have had to have my spring training during the season because of injuries the last two years. Hopefully, this spring will allow me to get off to a good start in the season."
Blake Tekotte doubled in two at-bats. Adam Zornes drew a walk but was doubled off first on a Lopez line out. James Darnell drew a walk but was 0-for-3.
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