San Diego Padres: Positive Takeaways from Opening Series in St. Louis

Darren FeeneyCorrespondent IApril 4, 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 3: Orlando Hudson #1 of the San Diego Padres turns a double play over Jon Jay #15 of the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 3, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Although the Padres fell one game shy of their first three-game sweep in St. Louis since 1980 after Sunday’s four-hit shutout by Jaime Garcia, the Padres showed plenty of encouraging aspects in the season-opening series.

Look no further than the starting pitching of Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard and Dustin Moseley.

Despite being outdueled by Garcia in Sunday afternoon's 2-0 loss, Moseley was very effective, allowing just four hits and one run in seven innings.

Tim Stauffer put together a quality start in his six innings of Opening Day’s 5-3 victory and Clayton Richard earned the win (6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER) in Saturday’s 11-3 offensive outburst, retiring 12 of the last 14 batters he faced.

A major reason the Padres were able to take two out of three and each pitcher earned a quality start was the handling of Albert Pujols.

Pujols had just two hits in 13 at-bats (.154) with one home run and one RBI.  He went hitless in two of the three games.

"Overall, if you can hold him down with one RBI in three games...if someone told you that before the series, you'd probably take that," Padres manager Bud Black told "We made some good pitches to him."

It’s easy to pinpoint the 11-3 victory as a positive takeaway for the obvious offensive production and hot bats.  But it was the method in which the Padres produced offensively that showed such promise.

The entire lineup executed according to the plan.

No. 3 hitter Orland Hudson set the table in the fifth inning.  With runners on first and second with no one out in a tie game, Hudson laid down a sacrifice bunt that you don’t usually see out of the three hole to advance the runners.

After Brad Hawpe walked intentionally, Ryan Ludwick walked on five pitches from starter Jake Westbrook to to give the Padres the 4-3 lead.  Chase Headley followed with a two-run single and Cameron Maybin added a double to make it 7-3.  Richard drew a four-pitch walk after Hundley was walked intentionally and Will Venable closed out the six-run inning with a sacrifice fly to left.

"It's what I saw in the spring, good at-bats," Black told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I like to see the carry-over. We were swinging at strikes and taking balls. Overall, we are having good at-bats.”

Richard also executed a textbook safety squeeze sacrifice bunt in the top of the second inning to tie the game at 2-2.

Headley equaled his career-high with four RBI, including a two-run homer in the ninth.  Ludwick set a career high with four runs scored in his return to St. Louis as the Padres put together nine hits and eight walks.

The Padres return to San Diego for their home opener against the defending champion San Francisco Giants.  The Giants dropped three out of four against the Los Angeles Dodgers to open the season.

Mat Latos is making great strides towards returning from his shoulder injury, but native San Diegan Aaron Harang will get the nod to start Tuesday at a sold out PETCO Park.