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A Loss, Questions for Padres

August 29, 1990|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Tom Werner, Padre chairman, was surveying the scene Tuesday night from the first row behind the Padre dugout. Jack McKeon, vice president/baseball operations, was viewing from the club box on the mezzanine level. Manager Greg Riddoch was watching from the bench.

Three different job descriptions.

Three different vantage points.

Three different baseball backgrounds.

And each came away with the same opinion Tuesday night after the Padres' 4-0 loss to the New York Mets in front of a crowd of 32,744 at Shea Stadium.

If the Padres ever are going to find themselves in the position of the Mets--winning a World Series championship in 1986, a division title in 1988, and in the thick of a pennant race this season--they are going to have to be some changes.

One skimpy comparison study Monday night let the Padre hierarchy recognize everything they need to know why the Mets (71-55) are the ones who have crept to within two games of the division-leading Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Padres (60-67) are the ones buried in fourth place, counting the days to the end of the season.

"Certainly, we've formed some opinions," Riddoch said, "but by the end of the year, we'll have some definitive answers."

Werner, McKeon and Riddoch met before Monday's game to discuss the Padres' future and the direction they want to take for 1991. Their needs are many, to be sure, but they have established their priorities:

Before they open spring-training camp in Yuma, Ariz., the Padres have decided they want to trade for a starting shortstop, find a regular third baseman and come up with a bona fide fifth starter.

It's still unknown just how they plan to go about fulfilling their needs, but after watching Monday's game, the Padre hierarchy reaffirmed their belief in just how those positions can make such a difference:

--The Mets have Howard Johnson (.244, 19 homers and 72 RBIs) playing shortstop, filling in valiantly for injured Kevin Elster. The Padres have Garry Templeton (.251, eight homers and 45 RBIs), who is playing with a bad knee and injured rib cage muscle.

The Mets have Gregg Jefferies (.295, 13 homers, 60 RBIs) playing third base. The Padres have Mike Pagliarulo (.245, three homers, 28 RBIs).

The Mets opened the season with David Cone (10-7, 3.42 ERA) as their fifth starter. He's the guy who pitched a five-hit shutout Monday against the Padres. The Padres' fifth starter is Calvin Schiraldi (3-7, 4.15), the same guy who lasted just four innings Monday, being pummeled for four runs and five hits.

Ah yes, those wondrous differences . . .

"But I still think the whole key to the Mets is their pitching," Riddoch. "Every one of their pitchers can take you to the seventh inning every time."

The Padres' array of No. 5 starters has gone seven innings only three times this season in 24 starts. The collection of Schiraldi, Eric Show and Mike Dunne have won all of two games in their starts as the Padres' fifth man.

And Schiraldi didn't come close to a third victory.

It's frightening enough for anyone to be facing the Mets' lineup--leading the major leagues with 607 runs--but when a pitcher is the man most responsible for your demise, it becomes a night he wants to forget the moment he sets foot on the New York streets.

Schiraldi was getting along just fine through the first two innings, the only blemish a two-out walk to Johnson in the second inning. He figured the third inning would be a breeze, too, because he was facing the bottom of the order. His thinking didn't change after he retired No. 8 hitter Mackey Sasser.

Next up was Cone, who owns a .208 batting average with three RBIs. Well, the way those two squared off, you'd have thought it was a rematch of Bob Welch and Reggie Jackson.

Cone must have stood at the plate for five minutes while Schiraldi threw fastball after fastball trying to strike him out. Instead, Cone just sat back and kept fouling off pitch after pitch while the crowd shrieked with each.

Finally, on the 14th, after eight foul balls, Cone just looked at it. Ball four. The crowd went berserk.

"That was unbelievable wasn't it?" Met second baseman Tim Teufel said. "I didn't know who would be more tired, Schiraldi or Cone."

Said Schiraldi: "You throw 14 pitches to anybody, and it will take something out of anyone."

Once Cone walked, it was as if Schiraldi was a beaten man. He immediately unraveled. Cone went to second on a passed ball, and Daryl Boston followed with a single to center, sending Cone to third and advancing to second himself when Joe Carter's throw missed the cutoff man. Dave Magadan followed with a sharp single to right, and just like that, the Mets had a 2-0 lead.

They made it 4-0 in the next inning when Teufel--playing for the first time in a week--hit a two-run homer over the left-field fence, putting the Padres away.

The way Cone was pitching, the Padres never had the chance to entertain any wild ideas about coming back. They not only couldn't get four runs after the fourth, they couldn't get four \o7 hits.

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