Opposing starters going long against Padres

San Diego has bad combo of high strikeout rate and low walk totals

Opposing starters going long against Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Two games into this week's series at Petco Park, the Giants have needed only two pitchers -- highlighting an unsettling trend for the San Diego offense.

For much of the season, Padres hitters have struggled to work counts, allowing opposing starters to pitch deep into games. Thirty times in their first 41 contests, the Friars have seen a starting pitcher throw at least six innings against them. That was the case again Wednesday night, as Johnny Cueto tossed a complete game in a 2-1 Giants victory.

"For us, it's really just locking into our zone and if it's not there, just trusting the next guy," said Padres manager Andy Green. "... It doesn't mean you're always going to walk. Sometimes you're aggressive on the first pitch, and it's really good baseball. We just want to be aggressive on our pitch more consistently."

The Padres whiffed eight times, and they sit second in the league with a strikeout rate above 25 percent. By itself, that number isn't necessarily so troubling -- until it's paired with their 6.7 percent walk rate, the third-lowest in baseball.

"Ideally, you want to be the highest on-base team in the league; you don't want to be on the other end of the spectrum," Green said. "You've got to be a team that forces pitchers to work if you have every intention of competing."

Ramirez plates Wallace

To be fair, Cueto was in ace-caliber form Wednesday, and he needed all of 117 pitches to complete his gem, laboring a bit in the eighth and ninth.

In the eyes of Padres third baseman Brett Wallace -- who had the lone extra-base hit of the night against Cueto -- it's not a matter of chasing starters. It's simply a matter of kickstarting the offense in the first place.

"He worked pretty hard tonight," Wallace said of Cueto. "We made him make pitches. It's not necessarily our goal that we don't want a complete game thrown [against us]. But in the same sense, if we're going to win games, we're going to have to put up runs and get hits. They kind of go hand in hand."

Monday in San Francisco, the Padres get their third crack at Cueto this season, and Green will be looking for a different approach.

"We have to go to another level of discipline if we're ever going to beat guys like that," Green said. "... We're going to see him again in five days. If we're going to beat him, we have to be disciplined. We have to force him into the strike zone."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.