CHICAGO – San Diego manager Bud Black sat in the visitors’ dugout at Wrigley Field wearing a Padres cap and a black eye.
He joked that the injury came from a bar fight (“the other guy is still eating out of a straw”) before finally conceding a door may have actually won the battle. Perhaps fearing he would get a matching one on his left eye, he chose to make a roster move.
“I started getting a lot of letters from Hampshire Illinois asking why [Jake Goebbert] didn’t play last night,” the 57-year-old said Thursday, a day after sitting Goebbert against a left-handed pitcher. “I succumbed to the Hampshire Illinois pressure.”
Black’s decision was much to the delight of the those wearing No. 4 San Diego jerseys in the left field bleachers, just beyond where Goebbert started in his 22nd major league game. But the move surely didn’t bring as much joy to them as Goebbert did in the top of the sixth inning, when the sixth spot in the order came up to the plate and took his place in the left side of the batters box.
With runners on first and second and nobody out in what was at the time a two-run ballgame, It was a situation when managers typically choose to bunt to move two runners into scoring position and take away the double play. But Black again pleased the masses and let the homegrown talent swing away.
The outfielder made the most of his opportunity. On a 1-1 count, he drilled righty Brian Schlitter’s fastball up the middle for his first Wrigley Field base hit.
“To get a hit in this ballpark, for him and his family and his friends is pretty cool,” Black said. “He’s such a good kid, you could tell everyone was behind him. That’s a special moment for the Goebbert clan.”
After the game, Pharrell’s “Happy” thumped through the speakers in the visitors’ clubhouse, providing the soundtrack to the Padres’ 13-3 blowout victory. While enjoying a post-game dinner of barbecue chicken, vegetables and mac and cheese, Goebbert also stopped to enjoy the moment.
“I knew he threw a lot of hard sinkers. I was just looking to get a fastball up in the air,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on it and get it up in the air.”
The line drive helped Goebbert bounce back from back-to-back strikeouts against Cubs starter Edwin Jackson, who used 87 and 86 mph sliders as his out pitches. He is now hitting .250 in 48 at-bats since his debut June 20.
“You just try to move on,” said Goebbert, who finished the game 1 for 5 with three strikeouts. “Step by step. Pitch by pitch. Day by day. That’s kind of the baseball player’s mentality.”
The Padres flew to Atlanta Thursday night to begin a four-game series with the Braves. It will be Goebbert’s first time in the city, but the inclination is that this first won’t be remembered in quite the same way as the ones he enjoyed over the past three days.
“It was good to get that monkey off my back,” Goebbert said. “Maybe next time I can come back and take a deep breath and just enjoy being here.”