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Opening Series Recap: Turn the Page on 1.8% 

Let’s keep this brief because there isn’t any other way to put it. The Opening Series was miserable.

Historically miserable, in fact, as the Padres became the first team in Major League Baseball to open up a season with three straight shutout losses. Not since the 1943 St. Louis Cardinals has an MLB Team opened the year with 26.0+ innings of scoreless baseball… and now the Padres hold the record with 27.0 innings of scoreless baseball (meaning that the team hasn’t personally scored over that span – not that they kept their opponent scoreless).

It doesn’t bear repeating, but the Friars without having scored at all on Wednesday actually have a chance to extend that streak as they head out on a seven-game road trip to Denver and Philadelphia.

Thank goodness they’re going to Coors Field – the home of baffling, high-scoring affairs!

You may be hard-pressed to believe it, but it’s not all gloom and doom for the Friars when looking at their start (or lack thereof) out of the gates. While San Diego broke St. Louis’ infamous 73-year old record tonight, it is worth noting that the 1943 St. Louis Cardinals went on to win the National League Pennant with a record of 105-49 (they lost to the Yankees in 5 games at the World Series). Plus, these past three games make up only 1.8% of the entire Major League season. Any statistician — or middle-schooler that just learned what a mean, median, or standard deviation is — would be happy to tell you that that is a tremendously small sample size, and not at all indicative of how the Padres will be playing throughout the entire year.

Additionally, the Friars’ current three-game losing streak to start the year is hardly the worst start to a season in recent memory. That dubious honor belongs to the 1988 Baltimore Orioles, who opened the season with 21-straight losses, and the Chicago Cubs came in a distant second after losing 14-straight to kick off the 1997 season.

Major League Baseball as it exists today has been around for 113 years (established in 1903), and the National League has been around even longer having been started in 1876. The sport itself has been around for hundreds of years (referred to as “Base-Ball” – two separate words! – in 1749) and while Padres fans may be wallowing now, it’s more important now than ever to keep a level head about this team.

There is a lot of history in this game. Breaking one infamous record as they did tonight is like breaking one plate in a China Shop the size of a Costco. It sounds bad now, but it will be lost to the ages in a sport that has voluminous records that seem to fade in and out of obscurity.

As I said in my previous piece, I’m not advocating for fans to go line up for playoff tickets now – that’s not how this works. But from a lot of the chatter around this team, so many seem ready to burn down the stadium after a horrible start to the season.

Baseball is a long season. It’s better to keep an open mind and watch these games knowing that there is more in store each day rather than condensing an entire season’s worth of joy and misery into one solitary weekend or series. Your mental health and well-being will thank you!

So without any further discussion on how you might want to approach the year – truly, I can’t change your minds anyway… nor would I want to! That’s the beauty of fandom – let’s look at some highs and lows from the Padres’ 2016 Opening Series. First, three good things:

  1. Kemp makes Contact – In Wednesday night’s loss, Matt Kemp collected his first and second hits of the season in consecutive at-bats. Needless to say, it was also Kemp’s first multi-hit game of the year, so that’s something to look at with favor.
  1. Jay extends Streak – Leadoff hitter Jon Jay collected his third base knock in as many games on Wednesday, as he extended his hitting streak to three-straight on the young season. Given rookie-manager Andy Green’s comments that the organization was “married” to the idea of Jay hitting leadoff, it seems that keeping Jay at the top of the order could prove to be a great tactic as the season goes on if he continues to consistently reach base.
  1. Bullpen Pieces Shine in Debuts – New Padres’ pitchers Ryan Buchter and Carlos Villanueva did excellent jobs in their debuts for the club as Buchter kept the Dodgers at bay through his two appearances in the series while Villanueva held his own despite one mistake to Yasiel Puig. New closer Fernando Rodney also did an excellent job in his 2016 debut on Tuesday, collecting a pair of strikeouts in the final inning of the game. Hopefully, this is just a taste of what’s to come.

Now on to three bad things:

  1. Game one: Padres – 0, Dodgers – 15
  1. Game two: Padres – 0, Dodgers – 3
  1. Game three: Padres – 0, Dodgers 7

Forgive the low-hanging fruit, but the elephant in the room is making me claustrophobic. The Padres collected 11 hits while going a combined 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the first three games of the year. The team didn’t even put a runner in scoring position on Tuesday. It was a tough series to swallow, but the team will get better.

Thursday is an off-day, while Friday begins a new three-game set against the Rockies at Coors Field.

If there is anything I can ask for as a writer, or even as a fellow Padres’ fan, it is this: don’t give up on the team just yet. I don’t rightfully know what position this team will finish in at the year’s end, nor should I – baseball is just a very strange sport and something wonderful and uplifting could be around the corner. Losing is never fun, and losing to the Dodgers is even worse.

You can’t give up just yet. You just have to hope and know that things will get better.

Go Padres.



About the author: Ian Edward Russell Smith

Ian is a former writer for the San Diego Padres, having worked as the Padres' "In-Season Blogger" during the 2015 season. Ian wrote as a member of the Friarhood's writing staff between parts of 2013-2015, writing over 100 articles over that span. In addition to being a writer, Ian is also a recent graduate of California Western School of Law in San Diego, having earned a Juris Doctor, as well as his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Law & Society from the University of California, Riverside. Be sure to follow Ian on Twitter (@SDRedBull8) to see what other ramblings he's posted about the Padres, San Diego, and baseball in general!