Some troubling stats for Padres' pitching

Positive updates on J.Upton, Norris

Some troubling stats for Padres' pitching

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

There seem to be three specific areas where Padres starting pitchers have struggled this season -- home runs, first-inning runs and with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Although right-hander James Shields got out of the first inning unharmed Friday night, Padres starters have a 5.12 earned run average in the first this season - overall, the staff's worst inning. Rival hitters are batting .264 against Padres pitching in the first inning this season.

The Padres have trailed after the first inning in 29 of their first 110 games, and the opposition has led after three innings 53 times this season.

After allowing four homers Friday night, Padres pitchers have given up 120 homers this season -- tied for the third-highest total in the National League. The 82 homers allowed by Padres starters is the fifth-highest total in the NL.

By comparison, the Padres have hit 95 homers.

And throughout all of the 2014 season, Padres pitchers allowed 117 homers

Shields has now allowed 24 homers this season, tied for the third-highest total in the league. Also in that three-way tie is another Padres starter, Ian Kennedy. The only silver lining with Shields' total is that 20 of the homers he has allowed have been solo shots.

What's odd about the Padres home-run-allowed statistic is that Tyson Ross has allowed only four home runs in 23 starts and set a Padres franchise record last month by going 16 straight starts (and 100 innings) between home runs allowed.

Andrew Cashner has allowed 15 homers in 21 starts. Odrisamer Despaigne has allowed 14 homers in 17 starts.

Ross has allowed 0.27 homers per nine innings.

Kennedy has allowed 1.96 homers per nine innings. Shields has allowed 1.55 homers per nine innings. Cashner has allowed 1.05 homers per nine innings. Despaigne has allowed 1.17 homers per nine innings. Kennedy's homer-per-nine-innings rate last season was 0.71. Despaigne's was 0.56. and Cashner's was 0.51.

In other words, those three returning Padres starters are giving up homers at twice the rate they did last year.

And then there's the runners-in-scoring-position marks. Overall, opposing hitters are batting .268 against Padres pitchers with runners in scoring position. With two outs, the RISP average is still .267. Last season, the Padres pitching staff had an overall earned run average of 3.27. The starters had a 3.55 ERA and the bullpen had a 2.73 mark. The team ERA was the second-lowest in the NL This season, the staff ERA is 3.99. That ranks ninth in the league. The starters have a 4.04 ERA. The bullpen mark is 3.89.

FROM THE SCORECARD

• Left fielder Justin Upton was 2-for-4 Friday night with his second triple of the season and two RBIs. He is now hitting .302 (51-for-169) in 47 games at Petco Park this season. He has 13 of his 18 homers, 33 of his 59 RBIs, and 32 of his 55 runs scored at Petco Park.

• Catcher Derek Norris is hitting .414 (12-for-29) over his last eight games with a double, a home run, seven RBIs and five runs scored.

• Right-handed reliever Kevin Quackenbush has allowed runs in each of his last three outings -- five runs total on four hits, including two home runs, and a walk in 2 1/3 innings. In 14 outings since he returned from Triple-A El Paso on June 24, Quackenbush has a 5.28 earned run average, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits and three walks with 13 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings. All three of the home runs he has allowed this season have come since he returned from El Paso.

• Poway High grad Alex Dickerson got his first Major League hit Friday night -- a pinch-hit single in the 11th. Dickerson flew out Thursday in his first Major League at-bat as a pinch-hitter in Milwaukee. Before being promoted Thursday when outfielder Will Venable went on paternity leave, Dickerson was hitting .306 for Triple-A El Paso with 10 homers and 59 RBIs.