Bullpen's month is one for record books
Six Padres relievers have ERAs below 3.00 in June
MIAMI -- The Padres, who went into Sunday's game against the Marlins a season-high 14 games over .500, have leaned heavily on their bullpen this season to carry them to the top of the National League.
How good has that bullpen been?
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Padres' relievers are on track to be the first in Major League history to throw at least 50 innings in a calendar month, finish that month with an ERA below 2.00 and with a rate of 10 or more strikeouts per nine innings.
The Padres' bullpen has posted a 1.77 ERA over 71 1/3 innings so far in June, with an average of 10.85 strikeouts per nine innings.
Six of the Padres seven current relievers have an ERA under 3.00; Ryan Webb (1.00), Luke Gregerson (1.64), Joe Thatcher (1.80), closer Heath Bell (1.93, 21 saves), Mike Adams (2.25, 21 holds) and Edward Mujica (2.92).
"It's to the point where now we expect games to be close and that we're going to be in there," Adams said. "We thrive on throwing in close games. For me, it's better to pitch in those games than a blowout situation.
"These are the type of games we play. It's just the team we are."
Pitch selection helps Adams out of jam
MIAMI -- Padres reliever Mike Adams worked himself into quite a mess on Saturday but, just as fast, got himself out of a pickle in the eighth inning.
With one out in the inning and the Padres leading 2-1, the Marlins' Chris Coghlan reached base with a bunt single. Gaby Sanchez followed with a hard single to left field.
Next up for the Marlins: Hanley Ramirez (11 home runs, 44 RBIs) and Jorge Cantu (10 home runs, 48 RBIs).
Here's how Adams got out of the mess, first with the at-bat against Ramirez, who swings one of the more potent bats in the National League.
"I wanted to make sure I kept the ball down. I got behind 2-0, and I was in a big hole. But fortunately for me, he expanded the strike zone, and I got back to 2-2," Adams said. "I then threw him a 2-2 slider."
Ramirez took a called strike for the second out of the inning.
"That was probably one of the best sliders I've thrown in a long time," said Adams, who now has a 2.25 ERA and a National League-best 21 holds.
Adams then struck out Cantu to end the inning, a sequence that manager Bud Black was impressed with.
"Every pitch is critical in a one-run game, even more so when you're on the road," Black said. "The pitches Mike made against their two best run-producers, Ramirez and Cantu, were tremendous."
Gonzalez puts up Player of Month numbers
MIAMI -- The Padres haven't had a National League Player of the Month since May 1997, when outfielder Tony Gwynn, en route to a Hall of Famer career, won the honor.
Could Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez snap that long streak?
Going into Sunday's game against the Marlins, Gonzalez was hitting .404 in the first 23 games of June, with 12 doubles, seven home runs, 21 RBIs, a .449 on-base percentage as well as a slugging percentage of .775.
The rest of the Padres are hitting .216 in June.
Gonzalez ranks among the National League leaders this month in average (first), on-base percentage (second), slugging percentage (first), home runs (tied for third) and RBIs (fourth).
For Gonzalez, his hot streak started long before the first of the month. Oddly enough, his success can be traced back to May, when he started to experience some soreness in his right shoulder during a series in Houston.
Gonzalez didn't start in Houston on May 9 and then was off with the rest of the team the next day. On May 11, he started a strengthening program for the shoulder, which has paid big dividends.
Since May 11, Gonzalez is hitting .341.
"It all started when my shoulder got hurt. I had to change my approach and shorten up and not try to do too much with the ball and let it get a little deeper on me," Gonzalez said. "I had to make some adjustments to get there.
"Now that it's 100 percent, I'm continuing with that. Now, I'm taking more what the pitcher gives me, taking the ball up the middle or the other way."
Gonzalez has seen his biggest gains against left-handed pitchers, as he has taken the ball the other way more consistently than at any other time in his career. He's hitting .327 overall against left-handed pitchers this season.
"I'm glad I'm at where I'm at, and I'm trying to continue that," Gonzalez said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.