Mat Latos made his first start of the season against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night, coming off the DL from a sore right shoulder.

Latos was solid in six innings of work, striking out seven, walking two, and allowing two (big) home runs.

Jonny Gomes took a hanging breaking ball and deposited it into the left field stands in the fourth, cutting the Padres lead to 2-1. In the following inning, Chris Heisey turned on a high fastball that landed in the same proximity as Gomes’ big fly, giving the Reds a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.

Other than those two pitches, Latos was his usual dominant self (as was his counterpart, Edinson Volquez). His pitch location, at times anyway, was not quite in mid-season form, but coming off the DL and making his first start of the year, you can’t expect that. It’s called mid-season form for a reason.

According to PITCHf/x, his four-seam fastball velocity was 93.1 miles per hour, just one MPH off last year’s average (FanGraphs).

Latos v reds

The above graph shows Latos pitch types, classified by MLB Gameday, with horizontal and vertical movement.

The Padres had their best chance to tie game in the eighth inning, when Alberto Gonzalez lined a lead off double just inside the left field foul line. With the tying run on second, Chris Denorfia attempted to sacrifice Gonzalez over to third.

Denorfia placed his bunt in the one spot you don’t want it – right in front of home plate. Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez’s throw to third was low and to the wrong side of the bag, but Scott Rolen picked it and put down a quick tag, getting a generous out call from the third base umpire.

Gonzalez looked safe, quite clearly, though in real-time it was a bang-bang play. Still, Denorfia has to do a better job of getting the bunt down – anywhere else on the diamond probably gets the runner to third.

Instead of a man on third, one out (or first and third, no outs), the Padres were left with Denorfia on first with one down. Jorge Cantu had a very nice at-bat following that debacle, but ended up striking out (Denorfia was thrown out at second on the whiff, adding to the frustration).

The Padres had a chance in the ninth, as Orlando Hudson led off with a walk, but  nothing materialized. On the positive side, Latos did have a nice outing. I don’t think this team has a chance without a healthy and effective Latos, and it’s definitely good to have him back already.