This couldn't have been a team that had lost eight in a row, 12 of 13 and 24 of 27, among the worst such numbers in club history.
This couldn't be a team on a collision course with the bottom of the National League West standings. Could it?
This team showed heart, character, talent and promise--all the things everyone thought it had until it began to collapse just before the All-Star break.
The Padres kicked some tail Tuesday night: 10-0. Repeat, 10-0, behind a two-hitter by Bruce Hurst.
These were the big, bad, Cincinnati Reds, possessors of the best record in baseball and a team that had likewise routed the Padres, 9-2, Monday night.
That gave the Padres a season-high eight-game losing streak, their longest since 1980. The club record is 10 set in 1972 and tied in '73 and '74. And no one in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium was more happy to see that record stay intact than Padre Manager Greg Riddoch, who won for just the second time in 13 games since taking over from Jack McKeon July 11.
"I'm a lot smarter than I was last night," said Riddoch, who spent most of Monday night answering letters in his stadium office until 4:30 a.m., then sleeping on his office couch.
He added: "When they got going, it was kind of catchy. I felt great for them. The guys weren't apprehensive."
One of those letters Riddoch answered was from Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson.
In it, Anderson said: "You are not special. You can't make it happen. You can only help the players' attitudes. . . . If you can change their attitudes, then you'll change their play."
Said Riddoch: "Success helps change people's attitudes."
Hurst, plagued by lack of support early this year, got plenty Tuesday but needed little.
Hurst (6-8) was brilliant, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out eight.
It was his second two-hitter of the year and fifth of his career. His other this season--on July 7, when he beat St. Louis, 3-1--was also his last victory.
Hurst also earned his 16th career shutout and first since Sept. 12, 1989, a 9-0 victory over Houston.
"I've never caught him before," catcher Tom Lampkin said. "I told him before the game, 'You just go ahead and throw your game.' He was throwing the ball exactly where he wanted to."
Offensively, the Padres had many stars while collecting 16 hits. Every starter except Hurst had at least one, with Tony Gwynn collecting three and Bip Roberts, Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, Mike Pagliarulo and Garry Templeton two each. Runs-batted-in leaders were Alomar with three and Gwynn and Lampkin with two each.
The action started early as the Padres jumped on All-Star starter Jack Armstrong (11-6) for two runs on three hits and a walk in the first. With two outs and Alomar on first after a single, Jack Clark walked. Carter lined a single up the middle, scoring Alomar and giving the Padres a rare lead.
How rare? Well, they had gone 56 consecutive innings without leading after a full inning before Sunday, when they briefly pulled ahead of St. Louis, 4-3, before losing, 6-4. They hadn't led since.
After Carter, Pagliarulo singled to left to drive in Clark, and it was 2-0.
In the fifth, it became a rout as the Padres scored five runs on six hits and three walks while sending 11 batters to the plate.
Armstrong was charged with the first seven runs, raising his ERA to 3.08 from 2.69. Reliever Tim Birtsas didn't fare much better, allowing three runs and seven hits over the final 3 1/3 innings.
Templeton started the Padre fifth by ripping a hanging curve down the right-field line for a double. Hurst then bunted an 1-and-2 pitch in front of the plate, and catcher Joe Oliver's throw to try to nail Templeton at third was late.
Roberts doubled, driving in Templeton. Alomar singled, driving in Hurst and Roberts, and it was 5-0.
Five batters later, Lampkin's first two RBIs as a big leaguer made it 7-0.
The Padres added a single run in the sixth on an RBI single by Gwynn and two in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Alomar and an RBI double by Gwynn.
Even as well as things were going for the new Padres, there were still a few signs of the old team, chiefly base-running blunders.
Three Padres were caught astray and put out on rundowns after RBI hits. Carter was caught rounding second too wide after Pagliarulo's RBI single in the first. Alomar was nailed between first and second after his two-RBI single in the fifth. And Gwynn was guilty of the same mistake after his RBI single in the sixth.
Also on the base paths, Gwynn was thrown out at home by left fielder Glenn Braggs in the fifth after being sent by Sandy Alomar, the third base coach, on a line single to left by Carter. Earlier that inning, Hurst was held up by Alomar on Roberts' double, which was misplayed by right fielder Paul O'Neill in the Reds' bullpen.
Oh, well. You can't expect a complete turnaround in a mere 24 hours.
Today's doubleheader marks the first of three makeup games at home with the Reds because of the player lockout that delayed by one week the opening of the season. The second makeup with the Reds will be Aug. 1. at the conclusion of this home stand. It would have been a travel day for both the Reds and Padres as the two meet in Cincinnati Aug. 2-5. Instead, Cincinnati will have to come to San Diego from Los Angeles for the one game.
The first game of today's doubleheader is at 5:05 p.m., a change from the original schedule. Calvin Schiraldi will make his first start of the season, replacing Andy Benes, who still has some stiffness in his left shoulder stemming from a scuffle July 12 in Pittsburgh. Benes, who will miss his second consecutive start, will pitch Friday against Houston, Manager Greg Riddoch said. In four 1989 starts, Schiraldi won three games and had a no-decision in the other after coming to the Padres in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. With the Cubs in 1988--his only full season as a starter--Schiraldi was 9-13 with a 4.38 ERA. Schiraldi is 2-2 this year with a 3.62 ERA.
Ed Whitson (7-7) will pitch the first game. The Reds will counter with Norm Charlton (8-4) and Rick Mahler (4-3). . . . The Reds have swept neither a doubleheader nor a four-game series at San Diego, making the Padres the only club that can make both claims. . . . Friday's game has been moved to 7:35 p.m. to accommodate the festivities of the salute to Joan Kroc. . . . Before Saturday's game, there will be an Equitable Old-Timers home run hitting contest featuring Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Lou Brock. Of the 29 players competing on two teams, seven are former pitchers, including Rollie Fingers, Tim Stoddard and Bill (The Spaceman) Lee. . . . Eddie Williams' home run in Monday's game came in his first at-bat ever in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. In high school, Williams was the San Diego Section player of the year in 1983 while leading Hoover High to the Class 2-A title.