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Padre Defeat Gives Boros the ‘Wedding Bell Blues’

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

Steve Boros hurried back for this? He flew in an airplane all Saturday night, hardly slept through the turbulence, hopped a cab to the hotel and got two hours of sleep just for this?

Tony Gwynn nominated himself “bonehead” of the day in a 3-1 Padre loss here Sunday. Gwynn misjudged Atlanta pitcher David Palmer’s two-out, fourth-inning fly ball and Andres Thomas scored when it rolled to the fence to break a 1-1 tie. Palmer went on to pitch a four-hitter, but Boros assumed that the humidity--not Palmer’s velocity--had most to do with the Padres’ inept hitting.

So a San Diego team that was hot before it arrived in the Atlanta heat is not anymore. The Braves swept three games. Boros and his general manager, Jack McKeon, spent many hours together this weekend in Spokane, Wash., where Boros’ daughter, Renee, took her wedding vows. But Boros and McKeon also vowed that it is probably time they made a trade or did something, anything.

They sat in a Spokane tavern called The Groggery and watched Friday’s Padre-Brave game on satellite television. Apparently there was much whining to go with their dining.

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“We’re waiting to see about certain individuals on the club,” Boros said after Sunday’s game. “We’re still assessing them, but if we’re not happy with their performance there will be some changes made either by the home stand (that starts the middle of this week) or by the All-Star break.”

As Boros’ voice trailed off, he stared a suspicious stare.

Which players will be moved?

“Oh, I’ll let you speculate,” he said.

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Asked if he and McKeon are out of patience with a team that made Palmer look special Sunday, Boros said: “Uh, yeah, it’s time to carefully assess the club, and we feel like we’ve given everybody a fair chance now, and now it’s time to sit down and see what moves are possible.”

The trouble is deciding whose job is in trouble. Mark Thurmond was Sunday’s starter, and while he threw better he wasn’t the victor. He gave up 10 hits and three runs in 4 innings.

“Three two-out hits made the difference,” Thurmond said.

--Thomas’ two-out bloop double to right scored Bob Horner in the second inning.

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--Palmer’s two-out shot over Gwynn’s head scored Thomas in the fourth.

--Ken Oberkfell’s two-out single scored Dale Murphy in the fifth.

The Gwynn play was the worst, considering he’s probably the Padres’ best on defense.

“I was playing him like any left-handed pull hitter,” Gwynn said. “He hit the ball and I lost it. And when I lost it, I didn’t think he had swung that good, so I took two, three, four steps in. I picked the ball up and said, ‘Oh, oh.’ It was over my head. But I still should’ve caught the ball. I misplayed it, and the run scored, and it cost us the game.

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“We didn’t score any more runs, so I’ve got to figure it cost us the game. I’m upset at myself. I made the bonehead play of the game. What can I say? I can’t sit here and make excuses. I screwed the play up and cost us. I take my lumps. It seems I make the same mistake every year, somewhere. A year ago, it was in ‘Frisco, and now here in Atlanta.

“I don’t have to say this too often, but I feel like a (bleeping) dope. I zoned it.”

Gwynn did have the only Padre RBI, a third-inning ground out that scored Tim Flannery. Against Palmer--who once threw a rain-shortened, five-inning perfect game when he was with Montreal--the Padres hit only four balls out of the infield through the first seven innings.

Dane Iorg, starting for Steve Garvey at first base, had two of the four Padre hits.

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Said Iorg: “I just feel good every time I start. I guess it’s a relief for me from being a pinch-hitter. I’ve been doing so bad pinch-hitting. I relax better, I think, when I start.”

Palmer, who is said to throw a good curveball and cut fastball, was signed this winter as a free agent and was assigned Terry Forster’s old locker stall. But Palmer is no tub of goo, though he has flubbed up some games after looking great for six innings.

“It’s nice to go nine and give the bullpen a day off,” Palmer said. “Chuck (Tanner, Brave manager), he has a lot of confidence in me. My rap in the past has been that I’m a five-inning pitcher.”

Of his base hit over Gwynn, Palmer said he ran like a tub of lard. “Yeah, I showed great speed,” he said. “He almost threw me out at second.”

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Boros was having a great weekend until he got here.

“It was an outdoor (wedding) ceremony, and it was a beautiful, sunny day,” he said. “It was a very nice couple of days.”

But he had baseball on his mind. McKeon happened to be in Spokane--scouting the Padre rookie team--so they ate breakfast together and talked shop.

On Saturday, the wedding day, Boros had much to do--with the reception and all--and he couldn’t get away and watch the game at The Groggery. Boros ended up calling the tavern twice, asking for updated scores, and he called the local newspaper for a final score.

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“Padres lost,” said someone at the paper.

“I didn’t tell them who I was,” Boros said later. “They wouldn’t have believed me, anyway.”

When he finally arrived in Atlanta, Boros spent a lot of time with Harry Dunlop, his replacement for two days.

“Harry gave me a complete rundown of the two ballgames, a very thorough, objective report,” Boros said. “I almost felt like I was here.”

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Which means he felt bad.

Padre Notes

Steve Boros said that pitching coach Galen Cisco told Mark Thurmond to “pause at the top of his leg kick,” and that helped Thurmond keep better balance on the mound. “There was progress,” Boros said, “and a little progress is better than none at all.” . . . Steve Garvey didn’t start Sunday’s game but was a late-inning substitute. He nearly homered to left-center in his only at-bat, but the ball was caught at the warning track. Garvey is 0 for his last 26.


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