Positives on Weaver, Renfroe, Hedges

Silver linings to Sunday's loss in Chicago

Positives on Weaver, Renfroe, Hedges

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

Yes, Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field on the south side of Chicago was something of a catastrophe for the San Diego Padres.

But I saw five good things in that game. I'm talking about Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot and Kirby Yates as well as Jered Weaver.

Weaver, of course, is a hot topic. He allowed one run on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings Sunday to lower his earned run average from 6.81 to 6.05. Yes, a double play got him out of a first-inning jam. But Weaver hit spots that he had been missing. For the first time in eight starts this season, he didn't allow a home run.

Renfroe's three-run, opposite-field, go-ahead home run against Jose Quintana in the seventh inning Sunday was just one of the positives I saw on this trip from the right fielder. Renfroe drew two walks Sunday, giving him six in the last four games and eight in the last eight after getting just two walks in his first 31 games. Plate discipline. He is 5-for-22 in his last eight games, but his on-base percentage in those games is .393. Could he be learning plate discipline? If he is, pitchers will have to throw him more strikes. Sunday's homer was his first since April 26 and his three RBIs were one more than his total since April 23. I also liked two throws he made Sunday.

Hedges was 6-for-17 on the five-game trip to Texas and the White Sox with a double and a homer with three RBIs. The run pushed his batting average up from .184 to .209. I like his swings.

Margot was 6-for-18 on the trip with a double, a homer and a stolen base. He is hitting .285, a solid number for a rookie. But what I liked more than his 2-for-3 with a walk Sunday was the catch he made to end the disastrous eighth. He caught the ball a stride in front of the fence in left after a long run from center to end an inning in which several of his teammates came up far short.

Yates was used to protect the 3-1 lead in the seventh. And he was successful. In seven appearances since being claimed off waivers from the Angels on April 26, Yates has allowed no runs on five hits and two walks with nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. If this continues, the way he is used will become noteworthy.

GAME NOTES:

• The Padres led in all five of their Interleague games on the five-game trip to Texas and the Chicago White Sox. Ultimately, they won only one. The Padres are 2-9 over their last 11 games. They are also 3-10 on the season in the final games of a series.

• RHP Brandon Maurer was charged with a blown save Sunday, although it came in the eighth. But it is two blown saves in the last three appearances for Maurer. Over those three games, Maurer has allowed seven runs on seven hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings as his earned run average has shot up from 2.03 to 6.00.

• LHP Ryan Buchter had walked only three hitters in his first 16 appearances and innings going into Sunday, when he walked three of the five hitters he faced and threw only nine strikes among his 23 pitches. Buchter's ERA shot up from 2.01 to 3.86.

• The game-opening homers in back-to-back games by, respectively, Manuel Margot and Matt Szczur Friday and Saturday, were the first such set in the Major Leagues since the Chicago Cubs got game-opening homers from Alfonso Soriano in back-to-back games on Sept. 26-27, 2007. The only other time the Padres got game-opening homers in back-to-back games was June 26-27, 2005. Damian Jackson hit both.

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