SAN DIEGO -- It was the eighth inning of another playoff game Thursday and John Moores was beside himself. The Padres' majority owner sat in a private box behind home plate on the press level at three-year-old PETCO Park, watching his ballclub lose another National League Division Series game to the Cardinals. And this one obviously hurt more than some of the others. "I'm monumentally disappointed," Moores said as his club dropped a 2-0 decision to fall behind by the same count in the best-of-five series that moves on to St. Louis for what could be the clinching game Saturday. "This year we were supposed to win this thing."
The Padres have gone to the playoffs five times in their 38-year history, and each of the first four times they were the underdogs. This year was supposed to be a little different. The Cardinals entered the postseason listing like a deflated balloon and backed in on the final day of the season, while the Padres had to win almost every day the last two weeks just to make it. It was the first time in club history that the Padres had captured home-field advantage by their own volition, and their tempo coming in was highly upbeat. Since then, Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols and Jeff Weaver have put the kibosh on San Diego's hopes again and the Padres' offense has generated only a run on 10 hits. "It's been like men playing boys," Moores said. Moores purchased the franchise from Tom Werner and his gang of 15 just before the 1995 season, and under his watch the Padres are 0-8 against the Cards in NLDS games dating back to 1996. After 10 years, he's part of the club's manifest destiny. They are a team that somehow never seems to get it right at crunch time, a pattern that dates back to previous owners. No matter how poorly the Cardinals were playing, when the bright lights came on this week, they shot right into postseason mode, picking up where most Tony La Russa teams have left off. At the same time, the Padres have shrunk into nothing men. It's the same old sad, recurring story. "In 1996, we weren't supposed to win and we didn't," Moores lamented. "In 1998, we weren't supposed to win. We beat the Astros and the Braves and went to the World Series. Last year, we weren't supposed to win. This year, I feel we're a better team overall than these guys and we're not getting it done. The bats have gone silent. We haven't made the plays." The fourth inning was the key to both games. On Tuesday, a botched foul pop by potential Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza gave Pujols another chance and he hit a two-run homer. On Thursday, a ball Dave Roberts should have caught in left field led to a Preston Wilson double. That brought Pujols to the plate with a runner on second and none out. Manager Bruce Bochy had David Wells pitch to Pujols, who promptly lined an RBI single to left. Pujols tried to take second on the throw to the plate, and when Todd Walker and Geoff Blum blew the rundown, Pujols was safe. Two batters later, Pujols scored on an infield single. Game over and out.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.