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Top pick Tate signed, Blanks hits winning HR in a great day for Padre baseball

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Recent call-up Kyle Blanks continues to impress (photo from 'sd dirk' via Flikr)

Recent call-up Kyle Blanks continues to impress (photo from 'sd dirk' via Flikr)

Sometimes hardships can become blessings in disguise, and in the case of the Padres, the future looks considerably more promising than it did a few months ago as the team’s youth movement continues to make strides in the bigs.

Yesterday was one of those days for the Friars. With the “Lovable Loser” Cubbies and their legions of fans in town, the Pads returned to PETCO last night after getting swept by the playoff-ready Cardinals in St. Louis. The series in St. Louis began a two-week stretch where the Pads will face-off against bonafide playoff contenders.

With little to play for aside from bragging rights (The Friars are 20 games back in the NL West and 16 games in the Wild Card) and so much young talent up from the minors, this two week period will really show what the Pads are made of, and last night was a great start to this week’s homestand.

Early in the game, the folks over at Channel 4 pointed their cameras at Padres first-round draft pick Donavan Tate, who was signed and introduced to the PETCO crowd yesterday. Tate, sporting the retro brown and mustard Padres cap and jacket, was all smiles sitting next to his mother behind home plate. The #3 overall pick signed for a bonus of $6.25 million — double what the Padres previous record was in signing notorious flop Matt Bush in 2003.

Tate, who comes to the bigs right out of high school, hit .525 with 10 home runs in his senior year. The son of former NFL running back Lars Tate, Donavan almost deferred to play quarterback for the University of North Carolina football team. But he said his first love is baseball, so he went with the Padres offer.

Whether they knew or not, the Padres certainly put on a good show for Tate last night. In a 0-0 pitchers duel between the surprising up-and-coming ace Kevin Correia and the Cubs’ Ted Lilly, the tie was broken in the 7th when Pads reliever Mike Adams gave up his first run in 24 innings pitched.

The Cubs took the 1-0 lead into the 9th when, with two outs, Chase Headley doubled in David Eckstein from first base to tie the game. Then, recent call-up Kyle Blanks, who’s been hitting the cover off the ball lately, blasted a shot to deep left center to win the game for the Pads. It was the fourth win in a row for the Padres over the Cubs at PETCO, and a great start to the homestand.

Tonight they take on the Cubs in game two. Ryan Dempster (6-6, 4.23 ERA) takes this hill against new Padres starter Cesar Carrillo (0-1, 30.86). First pitch is 7:05 at PETCO Park.

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