Next step for Padres: Reaching elusive .500 mark

Notes on Kemp, Upton, Wallace, Solarte

Next step for Padres: Reaching elusive .500 mark

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

The Padres remain two games below .500 with 38 games to play. Yet they are only seven games behind the division-leading Dodgers in the National League West.

That raises the question of whether or not the Padres are still in any form of a pennant race?

I agree with my Padres Social Hour colleague Jesse Agler on this one. Agler reasons that you can't discuss being in a playoff race until you reach .500. Which means, because the Padres are 61-63, we're at least two days away from discussing a playoff run ... and possibly longer, given the Padres' recent flirtations with .500. The last time the Padres were at .500 was June 13, when they were 32-32.

The Padres lost the next day. The day after that, Bud Black was let go as manager. The Padres would lose four straight and six of the next eight.

The Padres have been chasing .500 since, and they are 0-2 in games when they needed a win to get back to .500 -- the most recent loss in that situation was Sunday at Petco Park. Now they hit the road for a six-game trip to Washington and Philadelphia, starting Tuesday with the first of three games against the Nationals. This is not an easy trip.

"Washington is hanging on like we are," said Murphy. "And Philadelphia has had our number and is playing with nothing to lose."

After this trip, however, the Padres finish the season with 20 of their final 32 games at home. There is opportunity.

"Our goal is not to be .500," said Padres manager Pat Murphy, after Sunday's 10-3 loss to the Cardinals. "We've won four series in a row. We can still see the guys ahead of us. We have not been lapped."

Making up 6 1/2 games with 38 games to play is not impossible. Adding to the difficulty, however, is the fact that the Padres must also clear the D-backs and the Giants to get to the Dodgers. Still, the Padres have home-and-away series remaining with every team in the division, which makes the remote chance of winning the division title far more attainable than a Wild Card berth, where they are 11 1/2 games behind the pace for the No. 2 spot.

At the moment, the Padres -- 9-3 over their last 12 games -- are the hottest team in the National League West. By some miracle, were the Padres to continue that pace over the final 38 games, they would finish with one more wins than the Dodgers are on pace to have.

Do you believe in miracles? Well, don't think about it until they are back to .500.

From the scorecard

• Beyond Matt Kemp's 15-game hitting streak, the right fielder is hitting .315 (40-for-127) since the All-Star break with five doubles, a triple, seven homers and 29 RBIs. Since June 25, Kemp is hitting .310 (58-for-187) with nine doubles, a triple, 11 homers and 40 RBIs. The 40 RBIs over the last 34 games is tied for the second-highest total in the National League over the span.

Justin Upton is hitting .306 (64-for-209) at Petco Park this season with 15 homers and 40 RBIs. The left fielder is hitting only .212 on the road in 2015 with five homers and 27 RBIs in 217 at-bats.

• Third baseman Yangervis Solarte is batting .309 (55-for-178) in 48 games since June 25 with 23 extra-base hits (12 doubles, three triples and eight home runs). Solarte has hit .330 (35-for-106) over his last 27 games. He has hit safely in all but six of those 27 games, and he has 26 multihit games this season.

Brett Wallace has three RBIs, three runs scored and three hits in his last five pinch-hitting appearances, including Sunday's double and a home run. He is 9-for-29 (.310) as a pinch-hitter this season with two homers and seven RBIs.