The frustration has been mounting, more and more, each and every day for the past two weeks.
It has left Padre Manager Greg Riddoch wanting to scream, but he instead has simply gone home alone, then tried to fall asleep, only to find himself staring at the ceiling until the wee hours of the morning.
“All these losses just get to me,” Riddoch said. “We’re not winning, and I know it’s my fault. I’m the one responsible. I’m the one to blame.”
Never mind that this is a job Riddoch inherited only seven weeks ago, and that the Padres (62-73) dropped out of playoff contention months ago. There’s still a matter of pride to be considered, and Riddoch is taking every game as seriously as if he were managing the Pittsburgh Pirates during the stretch drive.
For those who wondered just what kind of effect these defeats have had, you should have been around Wednesday, listening to Riddoch’s 40-minute, closed-door team meeting before the Padres’ 5-2 victory over Houston.
Riddoch let his players know exactly what he has been thought of their performance lately, ripping into them loud and clear, his voice booming so loud at times that it could be heard through the clubhouse walls.
Yes, Riddoch can be a master psychologist, leaving his office open at all times for anyone to enter and pour out their soul.
He also proved Wednesday that he can chew players out with the best of them, checking his patience and tolerance at the clubhouse door.
“Just call me Mr. Blowhard,” Riddoch said.
The repercussion of Riddoch’s little chit-chat?
The Padres turned their hostilities on the Astros in front of a crowd of 27,239 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, unveiling aggressiveness and hustle that sorely has been missing.
“This was something that was really needed,” said Padre veteran Ed Whitson. “We needed to get re-focused. We only have 27 games left, and there’s no reason we can’t get up for every single one of them.
“We don’t want anyone saying ‘we quit.’ ”
With that, the Padres unleashed one of their most potent offensive attacks of the season--including six extra-base hits, their most since July 25--while winning for only the third time in 12 games.
There was leadoff hitter Roberto Alomar, who was just a homer shy of hitting for the cycle, driving in two runs. There was Joe Carter hitting his 22nd homer and making a diving catch in center field to save a run. And there was the suicide squeeze executed by Garry Templeton, the triple by Benito Santiago, the double by Mike Pagliarulo and, of course, the pitching of Dennis Rasmussen.
Rasmussen (9-13) who had won just one game since June 26, stymied the Astros through eight innings before Craig Lefferts came on in the ninth for his 23rd save.
Rasmussen allowed eight hits and three walks, but every time the Astros threatened, he shut the door, preventing them from getting a single hit with runners in scoring position. And just for kicks, the guy even hit a ground-rule double himself.
Yes, this is what Riddoch had in mind all along. Oh, they still might not win their share of these final four weeks, but Riddoch expects nothing less in effort.
“It wasn’t a situation where we were stinking up the house,” Riddoch said. “but it was a thing where a little effort would make a difference, and we weren’t always getting it. We weren’t pushing.
“I’m not saying everyone has been that way, but there’s a few individuals who haven’t played the way I like. I pointed all of us out, using everyone in the room.
“I didn’t single out anyone. I didn’t rip anybody. Really, it was like sitting down with your children in your household.
“We’ll see how they respond. I’m sure there will be those who’ll take it to heart. Others, if they don’t have any pride, will just ignore it.”
So just what was the players’ reaction during Riddoch’s tirade?
“I don’t know,” Riddoch said. “I asked if anybody had anything to say, and nobody said anything.”
Instead, they chose to respond with their play.
“We got some key hits when we needed, we even the pitcher got involved,” Riddoch said. “It’s not like we’ve been dead, we’ve been in every game. I’d just like to see us sustain good effort the rest of the way.
“I want to make sure we stayed focused enough where we don’t start making plans before it’s time, if you know what I mean.”
Loud and clear.
Manager Greg Riddoch said he will leave Calvin Schiraldi in the rotation for at least one more start, despite Schiraldi’s having lost eight of his past nine decisions. In his past six starts, Schiraldi is 0-5 with a 5.79 ERA. If Schiraldi falters again Saturday against the Atlanta Braves, Derek Lilliquist is expected to replace him in the rotation. . . . Paul Faries will make his major league debut tonight, Riddoch said, when he puts him in the lineup at second base. “Since it’s his debut, I want to put him in his natural position,” Riddoch said, “because I’m sure he’ll be nervous enough.” . . . Reliever Rafael Valdez, the Padres’ top pitching prospect, was examined Wednesday in San Diego and told that he has tendinitis in his elbow and should not pitch again for at least another month. Valdez, who spent most of the season with the Padres’ triple-A Las Vegas club, said he plans to pitch this winter in the Dominican Republic and then make another run in the spring at making the big league team. . . . Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn’s 64 RBIs this season are two more than he had all of last season and just seven fewer than his career-high of 71 set in 1984.
Despite missing 52 games this season with a fractured left forearm, Benito Santiago has a career-high five triples, just two fewer than Gwynn’s team-leading seven. . . . After further review: The error charged to Bip Roberts Tuesday night was changed to a hit for Dave Anderson. . . . Astro first baseman Glenn Davis hit his 20th homer in the second inning, and his 21st career homer against the Padres. It’s the sixth consecutive season that Davis has hit at least 20 homers, and with 164 in his career, he has moved past Cesar Cedeno into second place on the Astros’ all-time list. . . . Padre starter Andy Benes, after getting a no-decision Tuesday night against the Giants, shaved off his beard Wednesday. “It took me about 30 shavers, but I finally got it off,” Benes said. “Maybe this will give me a clean start.” . . . Welcome home: Of the 30 players on the Astro roster, 10 were raised in California. . . . The Padres will conclude their two-game series against the Astros with a 7:05 game tonight. Bruce Hurst (8-9) and Jim Deshaies (6-11) are the scheduled starters.