Petco Park will be a little less pitcher friendly when it begins its ninth season of play in 2013. The Padres announced Monday that they’d bring the right field wall in 11 feet and shorten the distances from home plate to right center from 402 feet to 391 and from home to left-center from 402 feet to 390.
Petco has been viewed as baseball’s toughest park for hitters since it opened in 2004, and it’s been especially tough on left-handers. Still, it’s hard to argue that it’s been a bad thing for the Padres. It’s certainly helped them lure free agent pitchers who were hoping a year in San Diego could help them rebuild their value. And while free agent hitters have stayed away, it’s not as though the Padres were ever interested in spending the money to lure big names anyway.
In eight years in Petco, the Padres have gone to the postseason twice, won at least 87 games four times and lost 90 games just twice. They’ve had a payroll over $70 million just once in that span, and it was actually in their worst year: a 2008 season in which they went 63-99.
Still, today’s changes probably won’t radically change the way the ballpark plays. It figures to remain pitcher friendly, just not as much so as in the past.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.