Are we expecting too much from Tyson Ross?

Early 2015 numbers off his breakthrough pace of 2014

Are we expecting too much from Tyson Ross?

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Tyson Ross has been solid through his first 11 starts of the 2015 season.

But he hasn't been outstanding, which is what he was after the first two months of his breakthrough 2014 campaign.

A year ago, Ross was 6-4 at the end of May with a 2.85 earned-run average. He had allowed 68 hits and 29 walks in 75 2/3 innings -- rates of 8.1 hits and 3.4 walks per game. And he hadn't yet started his Padres-record run of 14 straight quality starts.

After 11 starts this season, Ross will finish May with a 2-5 record and a 3.76 ERA. He has allowed 65 hits and 32 walks in 64 2/3 innings -- rates of 9.04 hits and 4.5 walks per nine innings. Rival baserunners have also swiped 21 bases in 25 attempts when Ross has been pitching.

His ERA is up nearly a run over a year ago and he's allowed two more runners per nine innings. Last year, opponents hit only .230 against Ross and struck out an average of once an inning. This season, opponents are hitting .260 against Ross.

"There is more in there," Padres manager Bud Black said Saturday afternoon before Ross lost for the fifth time in his last six decisions despite working his seventh quality start in 11 outings.

Saturday's start was much like Ross's season to date. Solid, but not spectacular. And we've come to expect spectacular from Ross.

"Tyson's stuff was good, but he wasn't real sharp," Black said after Saturday night's loss to the Pirates. "He gave us a chance." But like Black also said, several times the Pirates "were one hit from breaking it open."

Ross worked his way out of several early-game jams and allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks in six innings. The good news: Ross didn't allow a homer for a career-best sixth straight start and has allowed only three this season.

Ross isn't satisfied with his 2015. He remembers his All-Star run of 2014 -- 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA in 31 starts with 195 strikeouts in 195 2/3 innings. But he doesn't dwell on it.

"Last year is in the past," said Ross. "I'm trying to take it five days at a time."

One thing he's not going to change, however, is his delivery with runners on base. His high leg kick and longer delivery to the plate gives runners a head start.

"I'm not willing to sacrifice stuff to keep hold baserunners," said Ross.

FROM THE SCOREBOOK:

-- Left fielder Justin Upton was 1-for-4 Saturday to stretch his hitting streak to seven straight games. He is hitting .393 (11-for-28) during the streak with a double, his 12th homer, eight RBIs, three runs scored and four walks for a .469 on-base percentage and a .536 slugging percentage for a 1.005 OPS. He is hitting .351 (20-for-57) in his last 16 games with four homers and 13 RBIs.

-- Right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley has made five straight scoreless appearances, allowing two hits and no walks with eight strikeouts over five innings. His ERA has dropped from 9.35 to 5.93 during the run.

-- First baseman Yonder Alonso was 0-for-3 with a walk Saturday night and center fielder Melvin Upton Jr. was 1-for-5 with an RBI while on their rehab assignments with Triple-A El Paso. Upton is hitting .241 (7-for-29) with two doubles and two steals after eight games on his rehab assignment. Alonso is 1-for-12 with six walks in four rehab starts -- two with high Class A Lake Elsinore and two with El Paso.

-- Padres shortstops Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes hit a combined .162 in May with a .217 on-base percentage. Amarista was 11-for-68 with six walks. He had two doubles, scored four runs and drove in six. Barmes was 5-for-31 with a walk and two runs scored.