It is discouraging to lose the first game of the playoffs against a very good Cardinals team, but this is definitely a different Padres ballclub than last year. There’s no panic in here. This team has come back so many times, there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.
Even after Albert Pujols hit the two-run homer off Jake Peavy in the fourth inning and they got another run, I still felt we were going to win the game. That’s how confident I am in our ability to come back and score runs. We had the opportunities but just didn’t capitalize. That’s baseball.
The big difference this year is our starting pitching. When you’ve got David Wells going Thursday in Game 2 and Chris Young on Saturday in Game 3, you feel good about your chances. We’re looking forward to winning Game 2 and getting the momentum going.
Against a great pitcher like Chris Carpenter, all you can do is give yourselves opportunities. I’m just trying to have good at-bats, trying to make him work out there. He’s as tough as they come, and I’m trying to make sure he earns everything he gets. I thought we did a pretty decent job of that, but he was able to get outs when he needed them.
The crowd was great all day; they were very energetic, waiting to do everything they could to give us energy. I really felt we were going to get something going after the triple, when I scored on Brian Giles‘ sacrifice fly, but they were able to do some damage control. That’s what makes Carpenter great.
Carp made great pitches when he had to, and then they made a couple of very good plays when they had to — Ronnie Belliard taking a hit and two runs away from Todd Walker in the seventh and Pujols taking an RBI single away from Mike Piazza in the eighth. That’s three runs we could have had there, and it’s a different game.
But, again, you have to give them credit for their positioning. Tony La Russa and his staff are always thoroughly prepared. That’s why they’ve had the success they’ve had.
In day games here, it can be tough to see with the shadows later in the game. It’s important to get a lead early in this park, and I think those guys know that as well. When the shadows come into play, it makes it that much tougher.
Nobody here underestimates the Cardinals, believe me. It’s easy to look at what they did in September when they tailed off, but you look at their lineup, what those guys have done in the postseason. They had professional at-bats, and those were the guys who hurt us today, guys like Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen.
We’ve been a resilient club, especially during September when we had to keep winning games to stay in the race. We showed how we could come back after the Dodgers beat us that Monday night in L.A. with the home runs. We came right back and won the next night to go back into first place.
I have great faith and confidence in these guys.