Someone looked at the National League standings on Monday and wrote “WE CAN DO IT” on the Padre clubhouse chalkboard. Someone else, obviously knowing something the other guy didn’t, replaced it with a “WE WILL DO IT.”
Hours later, after Sid Fernandez pitched his first major league complete game, after Keith Hernandez went 5 for 5 with three RBIs, after the Mets won 12-4, the sign still stood, almost in mockery of a team that suddenly stood in third place, seven games behind the Dodgers and one-half game behind Cincinnati.
Outside, fireworks blasted, as the Padre promotional department backed up what it had said on recent commercials. “After the fireworks are over on the field,” they had said, “the fireworks really begin.” But the fireworks really began in the first inning when Mark Thurmond hung his first breaking ball.
Thurmond only got one batter out, a shame because he had won two straight. He yielded four runs in that first inning, including a two-run triple to Darryl Strawberry, and Dick Williams came and got him.
Strawberry’s hit curved into the Padre bullpen in left field, and as many as 15 guys, 11 of them pitchers, had to get out of the way. Little by little, though, those pitchers would matriculate onto the field, and Met hitters would deposit their pitches into the outfield. In all, Padre pitchers yielded a season-high 18 hits, including a three-run homer by Ray Knight and a two-run homer Hernandez.
Whoever wrote, “WE WILL DO IT” forgot about the inconsistent pitching.
PITCHER NO. 2--Luis DeLeon: Demoted to Las Vegas in July, he was recalled Sunday when the rosters were expanded. He’s a slider pitcher. Always has been. Always will be. Things weren’t sliding smoothly earlier this year, and they still aren’t. He replaced Thurmond in the first, retired two straight batters, but then gave up two runs on four hits in the second inning.
“I was trying to do good today,” DeLeon said. “It was my first time out since I’d been sent down. And I was really relaxed down there (in Las Vegas). I don’t have no pressure. I do pretty good, and I come up here. And I’m a little surprised that I’m the first guy up today.
“That’s good. I was surprised at the time, but then, I had my confidence back. I really tried. The left-handers (Hernandez and Strawberry had RBIs) killed me. Maybe, I start throwing with my left hand.”
PITCHER NO. 3--Gene Walter: A good day. He began the fourth by walking Wally Backman, who then stole second. But Backman was out stealing third, just before Hernandez singled. Walter escaped the inning.
Once in the dugout, pitching coach Galen Cisco, generally a lifesaver with his advice, told Walter he was rushing his pitches, and so on came two 1-2-3 innings.
PITCHER NO. 4--Bob Patterson: Who? For those who don’t hang out in Yuma, he’s a left-hander who had impressed the Padres in spring training, but was sent to Las Vegas for the second straight year anyway. He was recalled Sunday, and when he began the seventh inning, the big television screen let the crowd of 26,306 know it was his major league debut.
The organ player, a witty sort, played “Consider Yourself,” a song that includes the lyrics “Consider yourself part of the family.”
Bing. The 26-year-old Patterson got one out, but then yielded singles to Hernandez and Gary Carter. He got Strawberry to fly out, but George Foster singled in a run (on a two-strike pitch), and Knight then hit his homer.
Boos? Did he hear boos?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t very fair. Patterson was pitching his major league inning, and the first six batters had a combined 7,310 hits and 813 home runs.
Before they faced Patterson, that is.
Patterson pitched the eighth inning, too, and that’s when Hernandez hit his homer, a blast to right that rocketed about 375 feet almost on a straight line. The score was 12-3.
And the kid was nowhere to be found later, leaving without addressing the media, showing unusual smarts for a rookie. But his good friend Walter spoke for him, saying: “I don’t know what to say. I feel really sorry for him. He’s just going to have to wipe it out of his mind.”
PITCHER NO. 5--Goose Gossage: He strolled in to start the ninth inning, the first time he’d pitched since July 30. He walked by Graig Nettles, who must have said something funny because Gossage giggled.
He walked a batter and then Knight singled. A double play ended the inning, though.
“Goose was fair,” catcher Terry Kennedy said. “At least he was in there. He was probably just trying to get his rhythm.”
What about Thurmond?
“That was so long ago, I can’t even remember,” Kennedy said. “That was so many pitches ago.”
LaMarr Hoyt (tendinitis of the rotator cuff) was out at the stadium early Monday, just so he could throw in the bullpen. Afterward, he was talking about pitching Sunday, which apparently is a little too optimistic. “He threw at just three-quarter speed,” Manager Dick Williams said of Hoyt, who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 18. “He just threw fastballs and changeups. We certainly don’t want to rush him.” . . . Carmelo Martinez’s wife Gladys gave birth to a baby girl early Monday morning. The new father waltzed into the clubhouse, his hands full of cigars, and told all that she’d been named Natalie Michelle and that she weighed “seven pounds, maybe six-and-a-half.” Also, he said: “I got into the delivery room and was nervous, but when I saw the baby’s head, I said: ‘I like it. I can’t wait to see the rest.’ ” . . . Catcher Benito Santiago, who turns 20 today, is the newest Padre, although he’s not really a Padre. Up from Double-A ball, he’s just visiting the team, working with bullpen coach Harry Dunlop and taking big league batting practice. All this keeps him active, but he won’t be activated this season. Nonetheless, many perceive him as the Padre catcher of the future.