SAN FRANCISCO — The problem was, the Padres didn't walk in on just another home opener, they walked in on a party. Lately, the Padres have been in no mood to party.
Caught somewhere between the pomp and circumstance of the San Francisco Giants' first appearance in Candlestick Park this season, the Padres were asked to leave early. They couldn't have agreed more.
They woke up this morning rubbing their eyes and smelling smoke after a listless 6-1 loss Thursday that leaves their season at 0-3, with just two more consecutive losses needed to match the first milestone of last year's worst start in Western civilization.
"It's a team effort, trust me," said Manager Larry Bowa, remaining calm. "I can't point the finger at anybody because everybody is contributing. And I know I can't pitch or hit."
Said Tim Flannery: "I'm going to snap before Larry will. In fact, there's a couple of other guys who are real close to going off, too. On themselves, on others. We have to just wait and watch and see what happens."
The Padres, who were 0-5 last year before they won a game, were beaten with one mistake by starter Eric Show and a whole bunch of mistakes by a team that has struck out 24 times in three games.
You could blame it on Bob Brenly's three-run homer off Show in the fourth inning, which occurred only after Show hit Candy Maldonado and gave up a looping single to Kevin Mitchell, all with two out.
You could blame it the two relief pitchers who followed Show and gave up two runs (Eric Nolte) and one run (Mark Davis) over four innings.
You could, and probably should, blame it on an offense that could never figure out Mike Krukow, who had a 4.80 ERA last season. The Padres didn't get a hit off him until the fifth and managed only four hits in seven innings. They struck out six times, giving them 24 strikeouts in their first three games.
But then you could get interesting--which the Padres have not been--and blame it on the night.
This was the Giants' first evening home opener since the team moved to Candlestick Park 31 years ago. There were 56,379 fans, the second-best opening day crowd here in club history, the fifth-largest crowd overall.
There was a marching band and a five-minute version of the national anthem, and when the Padres were forced to stand along the third-base line after introductions, many of them left the line to run to the dugout to get warmup jackets.
"I've never seen it like this before," said Davis, who played parts of five seasons here. "When I was here, I was recognized \o7 once, \f7 on the freeway. Some guy yelled at me, and I thought it was only because something was hanging off my car."
Then the game started, 10 minutes late, but the chilled Padres never did.
While Krukow was holding them to just one fly ball over the first four innings, Show was holding the Giants to just one hit and two fly balls over the first three.
Then, with two out in the fourth and Show still going strong, the Padres' luck quietly collapsed. Show got a 1-and-1 pitch in on Maldonado, nicking his arm. Two pitches later, Mitchell reached out and lazily pulled a pitch into right field.
When Show finally fell behind a hitter--going 2 and 0 on Brenly--he was forced to pay. Brenly's homer traveled 365 feet, landing just in front of the left-field stands in the grass behind the wall.
In the top of the fifth, Keith Moreland and Garry Templeton reached base on singles, and Show was removed for pinch-hitter Flannery. But Flannery grounded out to second, and the Padres, with the exception of Benito Santiago's first homer in the seventh, never threatened again.
"Was I surprised to come out of the game?" asked Show. "Yes and no. No, because it happens so much to me. But yes, because how can we ever get any consistency in the starting pitching if we're removed every time we make a mistake?"
How bad was the offense? Chris Brown was brushed back by Krukow in what is becoming a nightly trial but this time did not get up to hit a homer, as he did opening night against Houston's Mike Scott. He got up and struck out and then didn't do anything in his other two at-bats but swing or look at strikes. His three strikeouts gave him 7 in 10 at-bats this season.
Stanley Jefferson, batting leadoff because of his ability to get on base, went 0 for 4 with two weak flyouts. That makes him 0 for 8 this season, and, going back to the end of last year, 1 for his last 39.
How bad was the offense? Tony Gwynn struck out \o7 looking \f7 and never hit the ball out of the infield. John Kruk broke out of a late-spring slump with two hits but was erased both times by Moreland's two double-play grounders.
"We might be pressing," Gwynn said. "I think we're all just trying to get the monkey off our back. You can look at it like we don't want to go through last year again, but, hey, it's happening."