Padres offense gets hot in Week 7
MAY 15, 2014 12:37p ET
Padres Week 7 Recap
Thursday vs Marlins: 1-3 Loss in 11
Friday vs Marlins: 10-1 Win
Saturday vs Marlins: 9-3 Win
Sunday vs Marlins: 5-4 Win
Now this is what I'm talking about! Some pitching, some hitting ... the Padres did a bit of everything as they took the final three games of their four game set with the upstart Miami Marlins.
The Marlins are not an explosive offense, but with an MVP candidate in Giancarlo Stanton, they are far from a pushover. The Padres starters dominated the entire series, as their four starters had accumulative 1.37 ERA and 0.87 WHIP: that's domination. Eric Stults and Robbie Erlin extended the starters streak of walk-less innings to 17.1, thus allowing them to pitch deeper into games and forcing opponents to put the ball in play. Miami's starting pitchers (5.85 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in this series) did the exact opposite over the final two games, as it took Nate Eovaldi and Hector Alvarez 193 pitches to get through nine innings.
Part of that elevated pitch count is the patience of the Padres' hitters. They rattled off 36 hits (one of which was a 2-0 pitch that resulted in Ian Kennedy's first career homer) in the three wins. Seth Smith was arguably the most valuable hitter of the week, finishing a single shy of the cycle on Saturday and now batting .330 this season. Jedd Gyorko also flashed signs of the skills that earned him a nice contract extension last week, taking Cy Young front-runner Jose Fernandez deep twice on Friday night. San Diego scored 10 runs on Friday, but I was most encouraged with their Sunday victory where four players recorded multiple hits and Will Venable hit his first home run. The Padres have lacked lineup depth, but this series looked like it could be the beginning of a break-through, something that would result in plenty of victories given the elite nature of this pitching staff.
Speaking of the pitching, San Diego entered this series with the best bullpen ERA in the big leagues, and while they struggled by their standards this week (3.86 ERA and 1.46 WHIP), they did enough to preserve leads. They were able to wriggle out of jams thanks to their ability to record the timely strikeout (12 punch outs in 7.2 innings), a skill that was on full display as eight of the nine outs they recorded on Friday came by way of K. The lone loss came in extra innings when Stanton took Dale Thayer deep, but even that was the result of the Marlins getting an extra out due to a fielding error by Jedd Gyorko.
For the first time in three weeks, the Padres won a series, and it was in very encouraging fashion. Was it against a great team? No. But they beat a team that has two elite players that has opened the season playing very good ball and looked great in doing so.
Tuesday @ Reds: 2-1 Win
Wednesday @ Reds: PPD
In game one of this series, Andrew Cashner (seven innings, seven hits, and one earned run) did what Andrew Cashner does: shut down the opponent. The Reds boast a very patient offense, but they worked just one walk against the Padres' ace and never really made Cashner labor through an inning. As good as he was, Mike Leake was even better (two hits allowed in eight innings of work). With the game all square and in the hands of the bullpen, the Padres had the Reds right where they wanted them.
As has been the case all year, the bullpen did their job. Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street allowed just one runner to reach base (a Joey Votto walk) and constantly attacked the strike zone with pin-point location. Cincinnati's bullpen is typically a strength, but with the Aroldis Chapman preseason injury, it has been a bit influx. The flamethrower is back now, but he is still in preseason mode, something that was clear as he grooved a fastball to Chase Headley. While the location wasn't good, the fact that a San Diego hitter took advantage is very encouraging. Seth Smith was the only other player with a hit, as he continued to produce despite no other teammate striking fear into opponents. Sure, the Padres were dominated (winning a game with three hits isn't very common), but with the pitching continuing to dominate and the season debut of Carlos Quentin (0-3 with a walk), things are looking up in San Diego.
Weekly Grade: A
With an ERA under 1.50 and allowing less than a base runner per inning, the starting staff really gave the Padres no choice but to have a productive week. Smith continues to rake, and with Jedd Gyorko showing signs of life, could this be a turning point? The pitching will likely regress at some point, but if they stay healthy, the staff is deep enough from top to bottom to limit the number of lengthy losing streaks this team experiences. It's difficult to count on Quentin for a ton of games, but he has generally been a productive hitter when on the field, and I believe his presence will help Gyorko and Headley immensely. It's hard to imagine any team running away with the NL West, so if San Diego can even get reasonable production from their bats, it is very possible they continue to stay without shouting distance.
Look Ahead: The Padres wrap up their series in Cincinnati tonight with a doubleheader due to Wednesday night's rainout, then travel to Coors Field to battle the red-hot Rockies over the weekend. Colorado is a good team, but if the Padres can limit this explosive offense, their big bats have the potential to do some damage in the thin air. They return home on Tuesday for the first of two against the Twins. I'm forecasting a four win week, which would give San Diego eight wins in eleven games, their best eleven game stretch in some time.
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