Padres are shut out for eighth time this season

Ross strikes out eight in strong outing, but takes loss

Padres are shut out for eighth time this season

SAN DIEGO -- If things keep going the way they're going, the Padres offensive numbers are going to go from bad to invisible.

In a season that has given new meaning to the term "sluggish offense," the Padres were shut out for the eighth time in 47 games Wednesday night. This time, it was Minnesota's Phil Hughes who looked like Cy Young over seven innings in a 2-0 blanking.

You see those numbers, and then you listen to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's assessment of the starting pitcher: "He was filthy. He was nasty. The ball was coming out of his hand. He had a great slider, as advertised, and threw some good changeups, too. My hitters said he has that breaking ball and changeup, but it's hard to sit on them because you have to respect that fastball."

Yes, Hughes was good in becoming the latest hurler to blank the Padres. But Gardenhire was speaking about Padres starter Tyson Ross.

That's life for the Padres these days.

Night after night, they're pitching well enough to win.

Night after night, they'd have difficulty, because their bats are so silent.

"I've been here for some offensive struggles," third baseman Chase Headley said. "It certainly feels like this one is as tough as we've experienced."

Headley, the Padres' No. 3 hitter, came into the game hitting .194. Their No. 4 hitter, Yonder Alonso, was hitting .193. Their No. 5 hitter, Jedd Gyorko, was hitting .163.

Yes, Hughes was good, but the Padres put runners on base in five of seven innings against him. They just could not string together enough hits, or produce a timely hit, to push a run across the plate.

They had chances. Multiple chances.

Seth Smith, consistently the bright light in the midst of a season-long offensive blackout, cracked a one-out single in the third and Headley followed with another base knock. But Alonso, batting cleanup because, as manager Bud Black said before the game, he had hit the ball hard a couple of times Tuesday night, popped to center to end the inning.

They put the first two batters on base to start the sixth right after the Twins scored in the top of the inning. But Gyorko grounded into a 5-4 fielder's choice, Will Venable followed with his second strikeout of the game and Cameron Maybin ended the inning with a bouncer that the Twins turned into a 6-4 fielder's choice.

"That would have been the inning to get him," Headley said.

It was swift, quiet and familiar.

Ross became the latest Padres starter to pitch well enough to deserve a better fate. He worked seven innings -- the sixth time in his past eight starts he's lasted seven or more -- and allowed just one run and three hits. He fanned eight and walked three. But one of those walks --Joe Mauer in the sixth -- scored.

Even the slightest mistake these days tends to ruin the night for the Padres.

"He was as good as I've seen him in awhile," Headley said of Ross. "He was really good."

And yet ...

"His slider was nasty," Venable said. "He pitched real well.

"We're sorry we couldn't get him any runs."

The eight shutouts suffered by the Padres is a Major League high. The Padres also rank last in the majors in batting average (.221 entering the game), on-base percentage (.279), OPS (.629) and runs scored (142).

It is evident that faces are getting longer and tempers are getting shorter, as you would expect, given offensive futility that now is stretching to nearly two months.

"We're trying to get ready for a game," Venable said. "We're not getting angry about anything. … We lost a game. It sucks."

Out of answers at this point, the Padres have no choice but to plod forward, pressing every button in this downward elevator.

"We've got another opportunity tomorrow," Venable said. "Show up and go to work. That's it. Isolating each game … we don't connect everything together. We didn't hit well today. We hope we do tomorrow. It's as simple as that."

Venable, who now is down to .196, is only interested in Thursday's series opener against the Cubs.

"We're all working hard as a team to get it going," he said. "I know from the outside the offense is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. I know we haven't produced like we should.

"I don't feel like there's a team slump. What has happened, what hasn't happened, you could sit and talk about it all day. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other."

And walk before you run. Jog before you sprint. It's coming, one of these days.

Isn't it?

Scott Miller is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.