By Bob Hurst
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 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. 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.”
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 started off his major league career with a blazing bat. On Sunday, 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 an 8-3 win at Cleveland.
Ramos had three singles and a double and scored a run. 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.
On Monday, Ramos added three more hits, becoming the first to get seven hits in his first two games to begin a career since Nanny Fernandez did it with the Boston Braves in 1942.
“I feel very comfortable at the plate,” Ramos said. “I try to hit the ball hard. That’s it.”
Ramos was filling in for 2009 batting champion Joe Mauer, who was out with a bruised heel. He went 7-for-9 (three doubles) in his first two games for a .777 average.
“He’s picked us up big time right now offensively,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You lose the best hitter in the game and you’ve got a young man stepping up and driving the baseball.”
By the way, Gibson finished his career after two seasons with a .286 average. Fernandez ended his with a .248 average in four years in the big leagues.
To Taser or not? The Philadelphia police officer who Tasered 17-year-old fan Steve Consalvi at Citizen’s Bank Park on Monday probably could have kept his Taser in the holster. Consalvi posed no threat other than being a nuisance. If anything, it provided a little humor in the eighth inning of a game between the Phillies and St. Louis. Consalvi ran circles around and through a slew of security personnel, making them look like the bumbling Keystone Cops.
Quotable: “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: 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 last Friday’s game…Indians closer Kerry Wood is on a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron…Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez 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.