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True believers: Padres have tough time coping with end of season

Big League Stew

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History might not look kindly on the 2010 San Diego Padres.

After enjoying first place for most of the season, the Friars blew what was a 6 1/2-game lead in late August, thanks in large part to a 10-game losing streak that stretched into early September.

The Padres still had a decent chance going into the regular-season's final week — they were up a half-game on Sept. 25 — but they dropped three of four against the Cubs and four of five overall to set up a do-or-die weekend against the San Francisco Giants.

And, as we know now, their season has died after falling to the Giants on Sunday.

Some called the Padres unprepared for the pennant pressure. Some called them immature. The awful "Chokers" was thrown around.

How do the Padres feel about their season ending? Well, how do ya' think?

From MLB.com:

"It's miserable. It stinks, but it's baseball," Padres right fielder Ryan Ludwick(notes) said. "We knew we had to win three games here. We won two. There's a bitter taste, knowing the season is over."

Without question, they gave a great effort, and they outplayed the non-believers' expectations. Most of the world never believed in the Padres. The team never seemed to care. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

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"It's a weird feeling," said closer Heath Bell(notes), who predicted in spring training that the Padres would be going to the World Series.

"We believed in ourselves when no one did. And just when we were being noticed, we struggled. I think we did great, not just quite enough."

They just didn't score enough runs, averaging 2.87 over the past five weeks to coincide with their slide.

"Early in the year, we had a lot of those 1-0, 2-1 victories," said Padres second baseman David Eckstein(notes). "That's who we are."

And that's why they lost. The likes of Adrian Gonzalez(notes) (pictured) could use more help on offense.

The pitching, especially the bullpen, was usually great.

Sunday's starter Mat Latos(notes), after complaining about the Giants having too many mercenaries and the Padres not enough, was solid for 82 pitches. He needed to be closer to perfect.

"They scratched off a few runs off me, but they're a good hitting ballclub, that's why they're going to the postseason," Latos said. "I went out there and executed my pitches for the most part. I got ground-ball outs when I needed to, I battled when I needed to, and I feel like I pitched to my best ability."

Left unsaid this time: "The Padres still need more hitting."

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