"Don't you like watching Greg pitch?" Black asked, in a not-so-rhetorical way of Padres starting pitcher Greg Maddux, who got the start against the Rockies.
Black didn't wait around for an answer, though he offered plenty of thoughts of his own on the 42-year-old Maddux, who earned career victory No. 350 as the Padres topped the Rockies 3-2 before a crowd of 34,117.
"It's one of the things I've come to enjoy in my year-plus here," Black continued. "It's good stuff, trying to watch him pitch and guess what he's going to do. It's always a fun day when he pitches."
But probably no more so that Saturday, as the Padres (13-24) won for just the fifth time since April 20, as Maddux limited the Rockies (15-22) to three hits and an unearned run, winning for the first time since April 13.
Stuck on career victory No. 349 for nearly a month, Maddux has insisted since his last victory that No. 350 held no more significance than any other victory. But after closer Trevor Hoffman -- who closed the game out with a scoreless ninth inning -- gave him the game ball, Maddux conceded that "it was pretty cool."
"I'll take any free ball I can get," Maddux said, with a sly grin.
Truth be told, it wasn't just Black who got a kick out of watching Maddux methodically work his way through the Rockies' dangerous lineup. Rookie catcher Luke Carlin got his first Major League start on Saturday and was charged with working with the future Hall of Fame pitcher.
Pressure? No, Carlin said. That didn't come until the top of the ninth inning when "Hell's Bells," Hoffman's entrance music, blared from the stadium speakers. Catching Maddux, Carlin said, wasn't too hard, as Maddux and the staff prepared him well.
That said, Carlin, who earlier this week was sitting in a dugout in Omaha with Triple-A Portland, was more than impressed with Maddux's outing and the little sliver of history that he shared with Maddux.
"There's nothing else like it. It's like all my dreams came true at once," Carlin said. "It's a privilege, an honor. He's got great stuff. When we talked yesterday and today, he told me how to set up, what pitches to call in certain situations."
Maddux told Carlin one other thing that he felt was imperative to Saturday's start: To have fun.
"How can anyone envision this?" Carlin asked no one in particular.
A day removed from jettisoning veteran center fielder Jim Edmonds, the Padres juggled their lineup Saturday to, as Black said, "see if it changes the dynamics of the lineup."
That included having Jody Gerut bat leadoff with Brian Giles hitting No. 3. The Padres, long accused of having a lack of team speed, swiped four bases for the first time since August. And though they struck out 12 times, they made Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez work especially hard in the fourth inning.
Jimenez walked Tadahito Iguchi and Giles to start the fourth inning. The Giles walk took nine pitches, which might have had an effect on Jimenez. He served up a 2-2 fastball to Adrian Gonzalez, who took the ball to left field for an opposite-field three-run home run.
From there, Maddux rolled along, until his throwing error in the sixth inning paved the way for the Rockies first run of the game. Reliever Heath Bell allowed a second run in the eighth inning, but Hoffman, pitching for the first time since April 30, closed out the Rockies.
Inside the clubhouse, the celebration was subdued. Maddux, grudgingly, was convinced to enter the same room outside the clubhouse where Black talks to reporters after every game. Maddux, who would likely rather do anything than talk about himself, patiently answered questions about victory No. 350.
"I was never really too concerned, I was just trying to win, to put my team in position to win," said Maddux, who is only one of nine pitchers to win 350. "But it's kind of cool. Every win is important."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less