Tucson Padres baseball
Bittersweet return to minors for Padres' Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo made his return to Tucson on Tuesday, and it was a bittersweet night for the Padres first baseman.
After spending the last two months in the big leagues as a starter for the San Diego Padres, Rizzo was optioned back down to Triple-A on Friday. He started for Tucson in Las Vegas on the same day that San Diego sent him to the minors.
Tuesday night was Rizzo's first home game since returning to the Triple-A lineup. He went 3-for-4 with a home run and 4 RBIs in the Padres' 6-5 loss to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
"It was so much fun playing in the majors," Rizzo said. "The experience was just awesome in every way. It was everything I had hoped for and more."
The 21-year-old batted .143 with one home run and six RBIs during his two-month big league stint.
"I wasn't real happy with my offensive performance up there, but I still loved every moment," Rizzo said.
"It's something that you always dream about when you're a little boy: to make it to the majors someday. It was amazing, and I want to go back there and stay up there."
Rizzo is currently batting .367 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs for Tucson this season. Since his return, he's gone 7-for-9 with two home runs and six RBIs over his last two games.
"To be honest, this is a great team," he said. "And I'm just happy to be playing baseball. Hey, I got to go to (Las) Vegas for four nights, and that was really fun."
In Rizzo's four-RBI night, Tucson found themselves down a run in first inning, coming from a double by Mark Jacobs and a two-out RBI single by Joe Mather. The Padres answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the frame with sacrifice fly by Rizzo to make the score 1-1.
Colorado Springs tacked on two unearned runs in the second, resulting from James Darnell's fielding error at third base, putting the Sky Sox up, 3-1.
"Darnell's error ended up being costly," Padres head coach Terry Kennedy said. "In a close game, you can always go back and point to something specific. In a blowout, either way, it doesn't matter. But when it's close, you can pinpoint something, and that was it."
The Sky Sox added another in the third to go up 4-1. In the following inning, back-to-back doubles in the fourth would increase Colorado Springs' lead to 5-1.
The Padres, who left runners on base in every inning except the seventh and the ninth, wouldn't put another run across until the bottom of the fifth, manufactured by doubles from Everth Cabrera and Rizzo.
Tucson had seven doubles on the evening.
"It helps having Rizzo back right in the middle of the lineup," Kennedy said. "Opposing teams know they can't make mistakes, as they did today. He helps the other hitters and gives us a chance there in the heart of the lineup."
In the top of the sixth, a double and a single by the Sky Sox pushed their lead to four once again, 6-2.
Tucson starting pitcher Sam Deduno gave up at least one run in every inning of the six he pitched, except the fifth. He posts a 4.18 ERA this season.
"Sam didn't pitch real well tonight," Kennedy said. "He was leaving balls in the middle of the plate. But he was battling the whole time and tried to keep us in it."
"The most important thing in any level of baseball, from the Majors to Rookie ball, is fastball command. If you can't throw the fastball where you want, you're going to get hurt."
Rizzo lasered a two-run home run to right in the bottom of the seventh to pull the Padres within two runs, 6-4.
"I was just trying to hit fastballs tonight," Rizzo said. "My coaches and I spent a little while in the cage yesterday, and we noticed a couple things that I was doing that I normally don't do. I was hunching over too much, and it was causing my swing to be too long. So we worked to get rid of some of those bad habits."
"On my home run, he threw me a fastball inside, so I kept my hands inside the ball and put a good swing on it."
The Padres made it a one-run game in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Guillermo Quiroz. But their bid for a late comeback ended with a 1-2-3 ninth, as the Sky Sox took the first game of a set of four, 6-5.
"What tonight came down to is us giving up two-out runs and hits," Kennedy said. "We definitely score enough runs on offense. What we need is some zeros up there from the pitching. We have to catch the balls that are hit to us and throw strikes. That's what we have to do."
Tucson's record sits at 49-54, good for third place, 12.5 games out of first. The team continues their series again the Sky Sox tomorrow at Kino Stadium.