MONTREAL — It was a day Padre Manager Greg Riddoch had been eagerly awaiting. He and Tom Runnells, manager of the Montreal Expos, have been talking about it the past five weeks. Residents of the city of Greeley, Colo., their hometown, have been counting the days to the showdown.
Teacher vs. pupil.
Neighbor vs. neighbor.
Best friend vs. best friend.
But in what was supposed to be an enjoyable adventure Monday for Riddoch, became another night of grief and misery, as he watched his team shut out, 3-0, by the Expos in front of a crowd of 12,369 at Olympic Stadium.
Don't get Riddoch wrong. He's not ashamed to lose to anyone. And certainly, he has seen his team struggle offensively, with the Padres suffering their eighth shutout of the season.
But Chris Haney?
This was a 22-year-old kid who has been in professional baseball less than two years.
This was a kid who was making his fourth major league start, losing his first three.
This was a kid who has spent most of this season in double-A Harrisburg.
And this was a kid who made the Padres look absolutely foolish, shutting them down for 6 1/3 innings without allowing a runner to reach third. Rookie Tony Fassero, a seven-year minor-leaguer, did the rest, allowing one hit the final 2 2/3 innings for his third save.
Is Haney that good?
"No comment," Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn said.
It's one thing to be shut down by Dwight Gooden, Frank Viola, David Cone and even Ron Darling. But for God's sakes, Chris Haney?
"We'll get him next time," one Padre said. "You can bank on it."
Sorry, but the Expos aren't going to provide that luxury.
Haney, who was activated Monday afternoon, was sent right back to the minors after the game to make room for starter Ron Darling, whom the Expos acquired from the Mets.
\o7 Thanks, kid, we'll call you up again next time we run into a team you can handle.\f7
"I was watching TV before the game, and I saw the news of the trade," Haney said. "That's when I knew I was a goner. They didn't tell me anything until after the game, but you don't have to have an education to figure that one out.
"Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted."
Haney, the son of Milwaukee Brewer pitching coach Larry Haney, struggled more in his outing July 8 against the triple-A Tidewater Tides than he did the Padres. In that game, he allowed five hits and three earned runs in six innings for Indianapolis. Compared to that game, the Padres were a breeze.
Sure, he gave up seven hits, and the Padres even managed an extra-base hit when Bip Roberts doubled in the third inning. But every time the Padres looked like they might be on the verge of getting to the kid, they couldn't buy a hit.
The Padres had runners in scoring position four times, and all four times they failed. Of course, it shouldn't be too surprising, considering the Padres are batting .040 with runners in scoring position their past seven games.
The Padres, who have lost 13 of their past 17 games, have been dreadful the past seven games. They're batting .172. They've scored six earned runs. And they've led in only four of 63 innings.
"It's been unbelievable," Padre batting coach Merv Rettenmund said.
And if it wasn't insulting enough to suffer through Haney's pitching performance, he even obtained his first major league hit, off Padre starter Andy Benes (4-10).
"It's like I always bring out the best in the opposing pitcher," said Benes, who has won only four of his past 25 starts.
What is his mental state, someone asked?
"I'm sane, if that's what you mean," he said. "I'm not going to go out and shoot myself. But you wonder when it's going to end."
Benes opened the game by allowing three successive singles, resulting in one run, then allowed only two hits during the remainder of his six-inning stint. Unfortunately for Benes, one of those hits was a two-run homer in the third inning by Larry Walker. Although the Padres were technically still in the game, remember, this is a team that hasn't overcome a three-run deficit for a victory since May 1.
Perhaps now you can understand now why Riddoch hardly was in the mood to talk about Runnells, Greeley, or anything else.
"When the game starts, friendship doesn't count," Riddoch said. "I'd really like to beat him every game. I just didn't win the first."
Runnells, who was a student at John Evans Jr. High School when Riddoch was a substitute teacher in Greeley, played for him in American Legion ball, and was hired by Riddoch as a manager in the Cincinnati Reds' organization. They now live six blocks from one another, and rarely does a week go by when they don't chat on the phone.
"I've taught him everything I know," Riddoch said, "trying to make sure he doesn't make the same mistakes I've made when I started.
"Maybe I taught him too well, huh?"