ATLANTA -- In three games this weekend, the Padres faced three crafty Atlanta right-handers who know exactly when to expand the strike zone. For a San Diego lineup filled with young -- and perhaps overeager -- hitters, that has been a mismatch.It was Bartolo Colon who stifled the Padres on
ATLANTA -- In three games this weekend, the Padres faced three crafty Atlanta right-handers who know exactly when to expand the strike zone. For a San Diego lineup filled with young -- and perhaps overeager -- hitters, that has been a mismatch.
It was Bartolo Colon who stifled the Padres on Sunday, with seven one-hit innings in a 9-2 Braves victory. R.A. Dickey held the Padres in check Saturday, and Julio Teheran did so Friday.
But perhaps as much as anything else, the Padres have held themselves in check this weekend. In three games, they've struck out swinging 10 times on pitches outside the strike zone, according to Statcast™. They've hit into 11 other outs this series on such pitches.
Ryan Schimpf was the only Padres hitter to solve Bartolo Colon on Sunday. He did so not only with his second-inning solo homer, but also with a fifth-inning walk in which he laid off three consecutive sliders below the strike zone. With another walk in the eighth against Braves reliever Ian Krol, Schimpf upped his Major League-leading total to 13.
"He works walks, and he still does damage when he gets a pitch in the zone," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Very professional at-bats. Not everyone's going to be Ryan Schimpf. There's going to be a freeness to the swing of Hunter Renfroe. We want him still to be Hunter Renfroe. But the more we can get these guys to shrink the strike zone, be aggressive within their zone where they do damage, the better off we're going to be as a club."
Renfroe, who arguably has even more power potential than Schimpf but has yet to walk this season, is probably the freest swinger on the club. But he's certainly not the only Padres hitter guilty of expanding the strike zone; Schimpf's 13 walks comprise one-third of the Padres' total this year.
Essentially, Schimpf's power scares enough pitchers to work out of the strike zone. And once they're working there, no one takes more pitches than Schimpf.
Considering his livelihood depends on hitting a baseball, it certainly seems reasonable that Schimpf -- who entered the game in a 1-for-24 slump -- might get antsy at the plate.
"You can at times," Schimpf said. "But if that happens, just try to take a step back and try to let it come to you. If you're not getting much to hit, just be patient, because you will. You try not to be [anxious]. You try to take a step back and always go back to your game plan."
Of course, in a bit of an ironic twist, Schimpf's home run Sunday came on a pitch about two inches off the outside corner of the plate.
Of the 24 Padres at-bats this series that have ended with swings outside the strike zone, Schimpf's homer was the only hit that left the infield.
"I'd have to look at it," said Schimpf, who noted he didn't realize the pitch was so far outside. "He ran a fastball away, I put a pretty good swing on it, and it got out."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.