Jerry Royster smashed a ball deep into the seats in left-center field in batting practice Thursday. A couple of pitches later, the right-hand hitting Royster--not know for his power--hit a towering shot into the seats in right-center.
“Oh, man,” said Padre batting coach Deacon Jones. “I’m starting to see strange things out here.”
But things really got strange when the game started.
The Padres batted around and scored four runs on three hits in the first inning of their 9-1 victory against the Atlanta Braves in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
Thursday night’s first-inning rally made it two straight innings that the Padres batted around. They did the same thing Wednesday night during a six-run eighth.
Masters of leaving runners on base throughout the season, the Padres scored 10 runs on 9 hits in two consecutive innings.
Maybe it’s the small crowds that have gotten the Padre bats going. Crowds of 7,338 Wednesday and 6,187 Thursday can make a team feel as though it is taking batting practice even after the game starts.
Thursday’s attendance was the Padres’ smallest home crowd since they drew 4,191 against Cincinnati Sept. 29, 1982.
On Thursday night, Brave starter and loser David Palmer was fooling the Padres about as much as manager Steve Boros did in batting practice.
In the first, the Padres put together a two-out rally. Walks to John Kruk and Kevin McReynolds and an infield single by Steve Garvey loaded the bases. Terry Kennedy blooped a single to left for two runs.
Garvey went to third and Kennedy took second on a throwing error by left fielder Ken Griffey. After Graig Nettles was walked intentionally to load the bases, Royster singled to right-center for two more runs.
Jones must have been shaking his head. And to think that the only reason Royster started at shortstop was because Garry Templeton was sidelined with a pulled hamstring.
After taking a one-inning break, the Padre offense came alive again in the third. Nettles drove in two runs with a double off the fence in left-center. Zane Smith replaced Palmer, and Royster promptly singled to left for another run.
Suddenly, the Padres were up by a touchdown and an extra point. They added two more runs on Kruk’s single in the sixth.
“We got some big two-out hits tonight and that’s something we haven’t been able to do,” Boros said.
The beneficiary of the Padres’ outburst was Ed Wojna, making his third start since being recalled from Las Vegas.
In pitching his first complete game in the majors, Wojna allowed just one unearned run, three hits, walked two and struck out a career-high five.
Wojna had a no-hitter until Griffey singled sharply to right leading off the fifth. Errors by Nettles and Wojna enabled Rafael Ramirez to score the Braves’ run in the fifth.
On the possibility of a no-hitter, Wojna said: “You always look at the board and fantasize and stuff. But you don’t really expect it.”
The Padres didn’t expect Wojna to go nine innings, but after a shaky first inning when all three Brave outs were hit hard, the right-hander settled down to pitch the best game of his career.
“When you get the early lead,” said Wojna, “you relax a little more. It’s easier to throw strikes.”
It was the first complete game for the Padres since Aug. 19 when Andy Hawkins beat Montreal, 7-1.
Padre Notes With their victory Thursday, the Padres moved percentage points ahead of Atlanta into fifth place in the National League West . . . . Shortstop Garry Templeton will miss at least a week with a pulled hamstring. Templeton hurt himself running from third to home while scoring during the Padres’ eighth-inning rally Wednesday night. Manager Steve Boros said a suicide squeeze was on, but Templeton missed the sign and pulled his hamstring when he made a sudden break for the plate. “Dick Dent (trainer) said it was better than he thought it would be,” Boros said. “But Garry is in a lot of pain. We tried to immobilize the leg as much as possible in the first 24 hours. We’ll know more in the next couple of days.”