Padres aim to carry momentum on to seven-game trek
By Bill Center
San Diego Padres |
Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.
The Padres have passed the first tests of the season.
They are competitive. The offense can score. They posted a 5-2 record on their first homestand and won each of their first two home series.
Of course, that is nothing new. The Padres are 11-0-1 in their last 12 series at Petco Park dating back to last season.
Now comes two more tests as the Padres hit the road for a seven-game trip to face the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and the Rockies in Denver.
Last season, the Padres tied for the sixth-best home record in the Major Leagues at 48-33. However, their 29-52 road record was the second-worst in the Major League to Colorado's dreadful 21-60 mark.
The Padres have gotten off to slow starts in four straight seasons. Not since their winning season of 2010 have they had a winning record in the first month of the season.
Last season, the Padres were 12-16 in April and 35-47 by the end of June. In 2013, the Padres were 10-16 in April. In '12, they went 7-17 in April and were 17-35 by the end of May. And in '11, they were 10-17 in April.
Since going 15-8 in 2010, the Padres' average first month is 9.75-16.5. Slow starts are not conducive to success. The Padres are 6-4 over the first 10 games with 13 games to go in April -- seven on the road and six at home.
To be successful in 2015, the Padres have to win on the road and get off to a faster start.
Notes from the scorebook
• Left fielder Justin Upton now has the active longest hitting streak in the National League and tied for the longest streak in the Major Leagues this season. Upton has hit safely in all 10 of the Padres' games this season (13-for-37) and in 12 straight games dating back to the end of last season. The only other Major Leaguer to hit in all 10 games this season is Oakland's Billy Butler. Upton's third home run of the season -- and second in as many nights at Petco Park - on Wednesday night broke a tie in the Padres 3-2 win. Upton owns a career .377 batting average (20-for-53) with two doubles, five homers and 12 RBIs in 15 games against the D-backs, where he started his Major League career.
• Since the arrival of Craig Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit is no longer the Padres' closer. But while he is no longer in line for saves, Benoit has been the pitcher of record in three of the Padres' wins this season. Benoit (3-0, 1.50 ERA) leads the National League in wins.
• Right-hander Brandon Morrow worked seven innings Wednesday for a second straight start, marking the first time since time since Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2012, that he worked seven or more innings in back-to-back starts. Morrow has a 1.29 ERA after two starts. Morrow got off to a rough start Wednesday night, giving up a two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning and hits to six of the first 13 hitters he faced. Morrow then retired 10 straight Diamondbacks and allowed one hit and one walk over his last 4 1/3 innings.
• Dating back to July 18, Padres starters are 29-10. The pitching staff's ERA over those past 39 games at Petco Park is 2.31. Both those totals are the best home marks in the Major Leagues over the span. The Padres' starting rotation has a 2.44 ERA in the first 10 games of this season. That tops the National League and ranks third in the Major Leagues behind Detroit and Oakland.