Murphy shuffles lineup in third day on job
Kennedy getting hot, Maurer staying hot
Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.
One of the things I like about college baseball is the head coach rolling the dice every once in a while -- trying something far outside the box.
Usually, of course, experiments are conducted in games against far inferior teams. No coach wants to risk the won-loss record. But college coaches will think outside the box at times.
That's not something you see a lot in the Major Leagues. Okay, some National League teams are hitting the pitcher eighth in the order. But most managers go with what they know works.
So it was interesting Thursday to see Pat Murphy try something very different in just his third game as the Padres manager.
Murphy played his first baseman, Yonder Alonso, at third and his catcher, Derek Norris, at first.
Then Murphy explained why.
"Norris is a very important piece and wants to play every day ... he wants to catch every day," said Murphy. "But we have to protect him a little bit.
"Yonder also is a very important piece. And he can do it and Norris can do it. It might take some time. Why do it now? Because we're preparing ... preparing to get on track and be a very consistent winning ballclub. These are the things you do."
"Yonder is going to make mistakes, he's gonna mess up because he hasn't played there, Murphy said. "But he's a baseball player and he understands. And we think he's capable.
"I don't know Derek all that well. But he's made a huge impression on me the last 48 hours as a ballplayer. Derek is a winning player. Doc [bench coach Dave Roberts] talked to him last night. Derek said, 'Absolutely.'
"We're trying to get the options going and see what we have. The staff is guiding me through it. I'm relying on these guys."
Afterwards, when he was asked about what he thought of Norris at first, Murphy replied: "He's short."
And that wasn't the only interesting switch in the lineup. Thursday's catcher, Austin Hedges, hit eighth in the order while second baseman Cory Spangenberg hit ninth in the Interleague game. That was akin to hitting the pitcher eighth in a National League game. Hedges was hitting .107 to Spangenberg's .245.
That gave the Padres two speedy players (Spangenberg and Melvin Upton Jr.) in front of the No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters the second time around the lineup. Different, yes. And different is fun to watch ... unless it doesn't work.
From the scorecard:
• The Padres have won four straight games started by right-hander Ian Kennedy, who picked up his fourth win of the season Thursday afternoon by holding the A's to a run on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts over six innings. Over his last two starts, Kennedy has allowed two runs on eight hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over 13 innings (a 1.38 earned run average). He has allowed two runs or fewer over six innings or more in four of his last six starts as his ERA has fallen from 6.75 to 5.43.
• Right-handed reliever Brandon Maurer has not allowed a run in 22 of his last 23 outings. Over the 23-appearance span, Maurer has allowed one run on 10 hits and four walks with 20 strikeouts. That's an ERA of 0.38 while allowing 0.58 hitters to reach base per inning. During the run, Maurer's ERA has fallen from 4.50 to 1.59.
• Left-handed starter Cory Luebke is scheduled to make a third, one-inning start for high Single-A Lake Elsinore Friday. He pitched a perfect inning Wednesday with a strikeout. Luebke has retired all six batters he has faced since beginning his month-long rehab process Monday with the Storm.
• Matt Kemp has two homers in his last three games, and three in his last 12. Kemp has three doubles and three homers in those last 12 games for nine RBIs.