Padres host Crew as Bartlett puts RBI streak on line

by Jon Star,

The D-backs found the right formula to cool off a hot Padres offense in San Diego’s final game of an eight-game road trip on Tuesday night. Now, the Padres head home, where any positive streak has been hard to come by.

San Diego welcomes the Brewers, who also were halted on Tuesday night, snapping their four-game winning streak. Both teams will look to start new streaks Wednesday, but victory for either team could be determined by the production of Jason Bartlett.

By recording a first-inning sacrifice fly on Tuesday, Bartlett tied a franchise record with an RBI in his ninth consecutive game, a feat shared by Sixto Lezcano (1982) and Steve Finley (1996). It is the longest streak since Jorge Cantu notched an RBI in 14 consecutive games spanning the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Marlins.

Bartlett’s streak is part of a warming trend that has consumed much of the Padres’ lineup. Before Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to Arizona, the Padres scored seven or more runs in five consecutive games for only the third time in franchise history. It was an important turnaround for a club that ranked last in the National League in runs scored for much of the season.

Yet, while the offensive output is a welcome development, Padres manager Bud Black won’t just rely on the bats. He wants to see his team continue to put pressure on opposing pitchers and that means stealing bases. Entering Wednesday, the Padres lead the NL with 45 steals.

“[Last season] if we didn’t score, we pitched so well that the other team didn’t score, either, so we were still able to do some things that we wanted to do offensively, especially with our basestealers,” Black said.

A bigger concern for Black may be his club’s futility at home. Coming off a 4-4 road trip, the Padres return to PETCO Park, where they are 7-14. But Black doesn’t believe location should make a difference when it comes to producing.

“Through April, we weren’t swinging the bats the way we are swinging in May and that’s the bottom line,” Black said. “It didn’t matter where we were. We still have to play good baseball no matter where we play, regardless if it’s home or on the road.”

Yovani Gallardo (4-2, 4.88 ERA) will be tasked with continuing the Padres’ home woes. The right-hander has won each of his last two starts, limiting the opposition to two earned runs on six hits over 14 innings. If there was one area of concern for Gallardo, it is his walk total. Gallardo issued seven free passes during his last two starts, and battled through a 30-pitch second inning in his previous start against the Pirates.

“I lost my rhythm a little bit [in the long second inning] but I was able to get out of it with no runs on the board,” Gallardo said of his last start. “I gave our team a chance to score first, and that’s what happened.”

Nevertheless, the right-hander should feel a measure of comfort in PETCO Park. Gallardo tossed seven innings of one-run ball with 11 strikeouts in his lone start there on May 1, 2010. Overall, Gallardo is 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA against the Padres.

Brewers: Duo’s damage
May started out very quietly both for the Brewers and their biggest sluggers in Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. Milwaukee dropped five in a row to begin the month and seven of 10, before winning four of their last five games. Fielder and Braun have contributed to the turnaround. Since May 10, the pair has combined to go 16-for-52 with four home runs and 15 RBIs. The production comes after Fielder and Braun combined to go 7-for-64 with a solo home run (Fielder’s) from May 1-9. Despite their slow start to May, Braun and Fielder have combined for 65 RBIs, leading all National League tandems.

Padres: Maybin’s May
The Padres’ scoring has jumped over the last week and much of that can be attributed to Cameron Maybin’s surge during the month. The center fielder has recorded two four-hit games in the last week and is 12-for-25 (.480) in that span, including a multi-home run game on May 13. The stretch has boosted his batting average 51 points. He has hit safely in 12 of his last 16 games (20-for-60) and has crossed the plate 12 times in the span. One element that has disappeared from Maybin’s game this month is the stolen base. Maybin has not attempted to steal a base in May after recording six steals in eight attempts in April.

Worth noting:
The Padres have played 25 games decided by two runs or fewer. San Diego went 11-14 in those games, including a 5-7 record in one-run games

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