SAN DIEGO – Saying he was “up to my ears” in his frustration, manager Jack McKeon lashed out Sunday after the last-place Padres made it a four-game sweep over the Marlins with a 4-3 victory.
“I’m embarrassed and they should be, too,” McKeon said after the Marlins concluded a 1-6 road trip.
Will Venable’s bases-loaded walk-off single off Mike Dunn in the ninth sent the Marlins to their 15th loss in their past 17 games and gave lowly San Diego a sweep of the seven-game season series between the two teams.
The Marlins were swept in a four-game series a total of eight times during the team’s first 18 seasons. It’s happened to them four times in this season alone.
Mike Stanton smacked his 30th home run to move into a tie with the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols for the National League lead. But McKeon used it to make a dig, saying Stanton would have even more if he was able to hit off Marlins pitchers.
“I imagine he’d sure as heck like to hit against our staff, because if they get behind, they lay it in there,” McKeon said. “Ridiculous.”
As they had done in every game of the series, the Padres on Sunday scored in the first, coming up with three runs off Anibal Sanchez, who gave up a leadoff homer to Venable.
“You come into this ballpark and they say, lowest hitting club (the Padres) in the league, this is the toughest park in America to hit home runs,” McKeon said in his rant. “And they just wear us out with home runs.”
The Padres have hit the fewest home runs of any team in the majors.
“This (Petco Park) should be ideal for the type of pitchers we have,” McKeon continued. “Throw strikes, keep the ball down and don’t get behind hitters. You’ve got to start using your brain. You’ve got to start figuring out how to get hitters out.”
Sanchez, who escaped a decision when the Marlins fought back and tied the score on Mike Cameron’s two-out home run in the ninth off Heath Bell, remained at 7-6.
“If I was a pitcher, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be labeled a .500 pitcher with some of our guys’ stuff out there, because I didn’t bear down or concentrate enough,” McKeon said.
After falling behind 3-0, the Marlins slowly chipped away at the lead. Stanton connected on his 30th home run, a solo shot in the fourth off starting pitcher Cory Luebke. Luebke set down the first 11 Marlins he faced before Stanton became the 11th player in major league history to slug at least 30 home runs in a season before his 22nd birthday.
The Marlins added another run in the eighth before tying it in the ninth on Cameron’s home run, handing Bell his fourth blown save in 38 chances. The Marlins threatened to take the lead in the ninth by loading the bases following Cameron’s homer. But Bell struck out John Buck to end the inning.
With Edward Mujica on the mound, Nick Hundley opened the ninth for the Padres by driving over the ball Cameron’s head in center. The ball struck a fence post, though, and took a sideways carom, enabling Hundley to end up at third with a triple.
“That’s just the way it’s been for us,” Cameron said. “If the ball bounces straight off, it’s a double instead of a triple. All the breaks that we were getting earlier are definitely not coming our way now. We’re having a hard time to find ways to win ballgames. It’s been rough.”
McKeon had the next two batters be walked intentionally to create a force at every base, brought in Cameron as a fifth infielder, and brought in lefty Mike Dunn from the bullpen to face Venable, a left-handed hitter. All of those ploys failed to work, though, as Venable lined a shot over Stanton’s head in right for the walk-off win.
“Some of these guys better wake up,” McKeon said. “This is crunch time. This is the time of the year when you better be a salesman and sell your wares, and show how badly you want to be a major league player. It’s not a picnic. They’re not on scholarship.”
McKeon intimated that he would be speaking with the team about his displeasure before the Marlins open a three-game series on Tuesday against the Reds.
“Definitely,” McKeon said. “If we have to be out there all day working, practicing, that’s where we’ll be. If that’s what it takes, we’re not going to keep putting up with this (stuff).”