Improved Padres defense struggles in loss

Improved Padres defense struggles in loss

SAN DIEGO -- During the offseason, the Padres made defense a priority. For most of the season's first month, it showed, but not on Wednesday night.

In what manager Andy Green termed an "ugly" 11-3 loss to the Rockies, the Padres committed three errors and made a couple other blunders in the field.

The Padres, of course, hope Wednesday's defeat was merely an anomaly. They've been even on the season in defensive runs saved after finishing minus-33 last year, good enough for 26th in the Majors.

"It's been solid," Green said of his team's defense this season. "Short of spectacular, but it's been solid. We've defended the field pretty well. I think we've turned balls into outs that we should turn into outs on a pretty consistent basis. Today was ugly, though."

The Padres' gloves began to falter after Dustin Garneau doubled to open the top of the fourth. Antonio Senzatela, the Rockies' starting pitcher, dropped down a bunt to Wil Myers. The Padres' first baseman opted to get the lead runner at third, but he double-clutched and Garneau slid in safely.

A batter later, things began to spiral for the Padres' defense. Charlie Blackmon hit a grounder through Myers' legs at first. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe retrieved the baseball and fired to second base, where no one was covering. The ball skittered away up the third-base line. Blackmon ended up on third, and both baserunners scored.

"He's just got to be sure somebody's standing at second base," Green said. "It's not that complicated, to be honest. He has a very good arm. ... That's just awareness, that's experience, that's understanding you've got to pick up your target before you turn and fire."

Of course, Renfroe wouldn't have touched the baseball on the play, but for Myers' blunder. After Myers challenged for the Gold Glove Award at first base last season, he's taken a step back in 2017. He's committed two errors and could have been charged with a couple more. Myers himself said he's been "below average" defensively.

"I have not been very good at first base this year," Myers said. "I have been pretty bad over there. Balls are getting on me too quick, and I'm not really using my feet very well. It's something I've got to work on. I had two plays to get us out of that big inning, and I just didn't make them. It's just something I need to work on."

There have been quite a few bright spots for the Padres defensively this year. Both catcher Austin Hedges and center fielder Manuel Margot are seeing consistent playing time in the Majors for the first time. One month into the season, they've each played Gold Glove-caliber defense. Considering their youth and the fact that they play premium defensive positions, the Padres should be in good shape for years to come.

But there are other kinks to be worked out -- both in the infield and at the corner outfield spots. That much was evident on Wednesday.

"You don't want to be dismissive of a bad night defensively, but over the course of 162, you're going to have those nights," Green said. "Multiple plays in the middle of the ballgame turned a game we had a chance to fight back in into a blowout game. I don't think we look at that game and think there's been a trend that we're defending the field poorly. But we definitely did that in the middle of the ballgame."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.