SAN DIEGO -- The last batter Padres pitcher Aaron Harang faced Tuesday with two outs in the seventh inning, the Cardinals' John Jay, didn't see a pitcher who looked the least bit beleaguered late in the game, as Harang fired three fastballs that were clocked at 92 mph.Harang hasn't just experienced success with the Padres -- he's 5-2 with a 3.96 ERA over his first 10 starts with San Diego -- he has also experienced an uptick in the velocity on his fastball, something that essentially went missing during his last two seasons with the Reds. "In his case, I think a lot of it has to do with Aaron's health and his mechanics," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We're seeing a lot of 91, 92, 93 miles per hour when he wants to get it." Harang, who earned a no-decision Tuesday in his second attempt to win his sixth game of the season, has earned rave reviews from pitching coach Darren Balsley, who said that the San Diego native has been everything he thought he would be. Harang, who signed a free-agent deal with the Padres in December, has found new life on his fastball because of a refined delivery he and Balsley have worked on since the start of Spring Training in February. That refined delivery has led Harang back to a point where he can throw free and easy -- with a small spike in velocity. "I think that he is all the way back," Balsley said of Harang, who experienced shoulder and forearm issues during the 2007 season and struggled thereafter. "It shows up in his velocity and how he's been able to command the ball down. "I think it's a matter of him being healthy. He feels good and he's getting his delivery to where it used to me. A lot of it is being comfortable."
Hudson strains groin against Cardinals
SAN DIEGO -- Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson left Wednesday's game against the Cardinals in the seventh inning after he came up limping when he reached base on an infield single.The team announced that Hudson had a left groin strain, though Hudson refused to comment on the injury. The Padres are off on Thursday but will fly to Washington, D.C., for a series against the Nationals beginning Friday. San Diego manager Bud Black said after the Padres' 3-1 victory over the Cardinals that Hudson "was sore." Hudson missed 13 games earlier this month with a strained right hamstring. The Padres activated him from the 15-day disabled list on May 19. The Padres used Alberto Gonzalez and Eric Patterson at second base during Hudson's absence and Logan Forsythe was recalled from Triple-A Tucson for infield depth. Hudson's hit in the seventh inning off Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter was his second in 21 at-bats since coming off the disabled list. Alberto Gonzalez replaced Hudson as a pinch-runner in the seventh inning and remained in the field thereafter.
Blanks' bat heating up with Double-A Missions
SAN DIEGO -- Kyle Blanks, the Padres' Opening Day left fielder in 2010, continues to progress toward a return to the Major Leagues after having elbow surgery in June.Blanks is hitting .311 in 33 games with Double-A San Antonio and is hitting .359 in the month of May with 16 of his 28 hits this month going for extra bases. Blanks, who has been the designated hitter and played some first base, started the season at San Antonio so he could play every day after he missed so much time when his season ended on June 14 while with Triple-A Portland. Blanks hit .241 in 54 at-bats in the first month of the season before finding his groove in May with the Missions, as he had 12 doubles, two triples and two home runs this month. Better still, Blanks is reaching the point with his right elbow where he might get playing time in the outfield for the Missions soon. Last season was essentially a loss for Blanks, who hit .157 in 33 games with 46 strikeouts in 120 plate appearances with the Padres. He went on the disabled list in May with what was first diagnosed as a strained elbow. Blanks initially tried to rehabilitate his elbow and played for Portland before it was decided he needed surgery.
Padres find offense late in games
SAN DIEGO -- Runs have certainly been hard to come by for the Padres, but when they do score them, it's usually happens late in games.Going into Wednesday's series finale against the Cardinals, the Padres had scored 78 of their 168 runs (46.4 percent) in the seventh inning or later. The 78 runs are tied for the third-most in the National League and are tied for the fourth-most in the Major Leagues. "It does seem like we do come to life more later in the game," Padres second baseman Eric Patterson said. "I can't tell you why that is, though. I do know that, except for a handful of games, we've pretty much been in every game and they've been close. The Padres also have 157 hits in the seventh inning and beyond, the third-most in the Major Leagues, trailing the Astros (165 hits) and Cardinals (158). "I think that says a lot about the way guys are battling and grinding. If we keep doing that, especially late in a game, we've got a chance to win," Patterson said.