Padres Show Bad Side to New Player : They Get Five Hits in Losing 3rd in Row to St. Louis, 5-2
When the phone rang at 8 this morning, jarring Mike Pagliarulo out of a sound sleep, he sensed this was going to be a miserable day.
Who could be calling him this early, he thought. Some long-lost friend looking for tickets for the night’s New York Yankee-Texas Ranger game? Or maybe some pesky autograph seeker who had the nerve to call him?
“Mike, this is Dallas.”
This was not good. It’s never customary for your manager to call you, but when it’s before breakfast, you know there’s trouble.
Pagliarulo shut his eyes, fighting the tears as the words came out of Dallas Green’s mouth. He was being traded by the Yankees, shipped 3,000 miles away from the team he loved and city he cherished.
Too choked up to tell his teammates, Pagliarulo quietly checked out of the team hotel in Dallas with his wife and 2-year-old son. He caught the next flight to San Diego. Caught a cab. Checked into another hotel. Caught a cab going to the ballpark. Got measured for a uniform and cap. Borrowed a pair of Luis Salazar’s shoes. Stepped into the starting lineup at third base. And went hitless in three at-bats.
So you can just imagine Pagliarulo’s mood when reporters descended upon him after the Padres’ 5-2 defeat, asking just what happened when he killed the Padres’ last chance to tie the game in the seventh inning by striking out.
“I don’t know what I feel right now,” he said. “I feel like I’m still in the air. I’m confused today.”
Pagliarulo, who has lived in the East all his life, never bothered to follow the National League. Not while growing up. Not while in college. Not even in the big leagues.
“I had to pick up their (Padre) box score this morning just to see who my teammates are,” Pagliarulo said. “I never followed the National League. I know a few of these guys because they played in New York, but like the Cardinals, I don’t know anyone.
“Well, I know (Tom) Brunansky. He plays for them, doesn’t he?”
Pagliarulo not only learned that Brunansky plays for the Cardinals, watching him hit his seventh home run in 11 games at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, but found out a whole lot more about their pitchers.
He knew a little about Cardinal starter Ted Power (2-4), who pitched briefly with the Kansas City Royals last season, but that didn’t seem to help when he went hitless in his first two at-bats, reaching base only on third baseman Terry Pendleton’s error.
Still, he felt encouraged when he stepped to the plate in the seventh. The Padres, trailing 3-1, had runners on first and second with two outs. Here was Pagliarulo with the chance to be a hero in front of the 27,567 fans, making his National League debut a night to remember.
Well, wouldn’t you know that Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog decided to make Pagliarulo’s day a little more difficult. He went to the bullpen and summoned left-hander Frank DiPino.
Pagliarulo, a left-handed hitter, seldom was allowed to face left-handed pitchers while with the Yankees. With his career .190 batting average against lefties entering the season, and a .242 average with nine strikeouts in 33 at-bats against left-handers in ’89, Green’s reluctance to allow Pagliarulo to face them was understandable.
“But I got him to bat against righties and lefties,” Padre Manager Jack McKeon said. “I want to give him some confidence.”
So there he was, facing a pitcher he never even heard of, seeing pitches that he’s never seen from him.
Being extremely patient, Pagliarulo worked the count to three-two. He had DiPino right where he wanted him. He was looking for a fastball. DiPino threw a slider.
Welcome to the National League.
Of course, Pagliarulo only needed to look around the clubhouse to find plenty of soul mates. The Padres managed only five hits, three of them off Power. In three games this series against the Cardinals, the Padre offense now produced three runs and 13 hits in 27 innings, batting .140.
The Padres had little difficulty accepting their defeat to Joe Magrane on Thursday. And they could even see losing to Jose DeLeon. But Ted Power, a guy who had allowed 20 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings in his previous five starts this season?
“Every time I look in the box score,” McKeon said, “he’s going 1 2/3, 2 and 2 1/3 innings. I’m not taking anything away from Ted Power, but we made Power look real good. We’re making some of these guys look like Cy Young.
“Their pitchers are not getting us out; we’re getting ourselves out. They could bounce it up there, and we would swing at it.”
Unfortunately for Padre starter Greg Harris, he did not have the luxury of being able to face the Padre hitters. And he realized the difference on the first pitch, when Willie McGee lined a double past first baseman Jack Clark into the right-field corner. Milt Thompson followed by hitting a 2-0 pitch into deep center. The ball appeared playable, but center fielder Marvell Wynne misjudged the ball and broke in. By the time he realized his mistake, it was too late. The ball dropped over his head, and by the time he retrieved it, Thompson was rounding second and on his way to third.
Harris, appearing rattled, then walked Pedro Guerrero on five pitches. He got out of the inning when Tom Brunansky grounded into a double play, scoring Thompson, and Terry Pendleton struck out.
It was plenty enough to hold off the Padres, who didn’t score their second run until the ninth.
As Pagliarulo also found out on his first night on the job, these are not the Bronx Bombers.
The Padres do not need to make a roster move until new pitcher Don Schulze joins them in Cincinnati. Padre Manager Jack McKeon said the organization has yet to discuss who’ll be sent down to their triple-A club in Las Vegas, but outfielder Shawn Abner and pitcher Fred Toliver appear to be the leading candidates. . . . Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn went hitless for the second consecutive game for only the third time this season. His batting average dropped to .339, one point lower than Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds . . . Second baseman Joey Cora of the Padres’ triple-A club in Las Vegas extended his hitting streak to 36 games with hits in each game of their double-header. It’s the longest hitting streak in professional baseball this season.