So why exactly were the San Diego Padres leading the National League West at the start of this week?
Pitching, for one thing. The Padres went into Monday’s series against Colorado with the third-best Earned Run Average of any pitching staff in the major league’s with a 2.76 mark. They shut out Milwaukee in three out of four games, not bad given the fact that the Brewers led the NL in runs scored going into the series.
Those blanks gave the Padres six shutouts during a 13-3 spurt after starting the season 3-6.
Two of those shutouts were contributed to by starter Wade LeBlanc, who threw 6.0 and 6.1 innings. LeBlanc was 2-0 with a 0.52 ERA going into Tuesday’s starting assignment. Kevin Correia was 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA and Jon Garland was 3-2 with a 2.06 ERA after Sunday’s game. Closer Heath Bell had seven saves in his first eight chances.
“Right now we’re just feeding off each other, and it’s fun,” Garland said. “We don’t talk about it, but we know it. As long as we can keep coming out and keep giving this team a chance, we’re going to get on base, we’re going to make things happen. There’s going to be some rough patches, but as long as we come out and continue to play our game, we’re going to be in the mix.”
The Padres success on the mound has been accomplished without big right-hander Chris Young, who is on a rehab assignment with Double-A San Antonio after recovering from shoulder surgery.
It’s still early, but the Padres are enjoying being contenders.
Ramos a hit in debut: Minnesota Twins rookie Wilson Ramos became the 21st player and the first catcher since baseball’s modern era began in 1900 to record four hits in his major league debut in Sunday’s 8-3 win at Cleveland.
Ramos had three singles and a double and scored a run.
“I was relaxed because I played in Venezuela and there’s a lot of crazy fans,” Ramos said. “Now, I am very excited and very happy.”
The last player to get four hits in his debut was Colorado’s Derrick Gibson on Sept. 8, 1998 against Florida. The only other Twins player to do it was Kirby Puckett on May 8, 1984 against the Angels.
Quotable: “I’m not really a speck on that guy’s radar, but he’ll know after today that it might not be a good idea to run across the mound when I’m out there.
“It’s pretty much baseball etiquette. You don’t run across the pitcher’s mound during a game. If he wants to run across the pitcher’s mound, tell him to go do laps in the bullpen.” — A’s pitcher Dallas Braden, after the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez ran across the mound returning to first base after a foul ball in a game at Oakland on April 22.
StatsWatch: Minnesota Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano is off to a strong start this season, three years after missing the 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery to repair an elbow ligament in his throwing arm. Here are his stats since his rookie year in 2006:
- 2006 – 12-3, 2.16 ERA
- 2007 – missed season
- 2008 – 6-4, 3.91 ERA
- 2009 – 5-13, 5.80 ERA
- 2010 – 4-0, 1.08 ERA
Fun Fact: Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams received a ticket for jaywalking in Seattle last August. About one week later, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella was given a warning for the same offense in San Diego.
Diamond Notes: Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander retired 23 straight batters in the Tigers 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday…Dodgers second baseman Blake DeWitt had his first four-hit game in the majors in Los Angeles’ 9-3 win over Pittsburgh at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. DeWitt drove in three runs on two doubles…Twins catcher Joe Mauer started the week recuperating from a bruised left heel, suffered last Friday when he stepped on first base while lunging to beat out an infield single…Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones was back in the lineup on Sunday one day after checking himself into a hospital due to a blockage of food in his esophagus. He said it was caused by a piece of beef served with a clubhouse meal after Friday’s game…Indians closer Kerry Wood is on a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron. He has not pitched this season because of a strained muscle in his upper right back…Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez, who had missed 10 games through Sunday with a strained right calf, was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Inland Empire this week.
Copyright © 2010 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.