5/14/2014 1:57 A.M. ET
Focusing on fundamentals, Padres aim to stay hot
By Manny Randhawa / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Despite finding themselves ranked near the bottom of the Majors in runs scored going into their series against the Marlins last weekend, the Padres saw their bats come to life against Miami, scoring 24 runs on 36 hits their last three games. Collectively, San Diego batted .343 with five doubles, two triples, five home runs and 24 RBIs over that span.
Coming into the Marlins series, the Padres were hitting .214 in their first 36 games of the season.
Manager Bud Black said before Tuesday's series opener against the Reds at the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park that while the venue can impact an offense, the fundamentals are what drive success at the plate.
"If you have good at-bats anywhere, I think your offense will show the result," Black said. "We had very good at-bats over the weekend at Petco; we scored 24 runs in three games. … There's a guy on the mound every night who's trying to shut you down. If he pitches well, it doesn't matter where you're playing. We have the same guy trying to do it to their team, too. …
"Granted, there's maybe some fly balls that might not go out of other parks that go out here, but that's OK. We've gotta be able to hit them, too, if they're hitting them."
The recent offensive outburst has been a boon to a pitching staff that has performed well overall this season, but had little run support.
"It's been nice," said left-hander Eric Stults. "We've really kind of been firing on all cylinders in the last series against the Marlins. We pitched well and we hit well. And that's the key. We as a pitching staff have got to do our job, and our job is to go out there and try to put zeroes up every inning. And the hitting side of things, we don't have any control over that. … Our offense at the beginning of the year was struggling, but we all knew that it would turn around."
Headley sends support to those affected by SD fire
CINCINNATI -- Chase Headley hit the game-winning homer in the ninth inning of the Padres' 2-1 win over the Reds on Tuesday night.
But more important than Tuesday's victory in the mind of the game's hero were the people of San Diego in the path of a raging wildfire that forced the evacuation of 20,000 homes.
As reporters began to disperse from around his locker following questions about the game, Headley made sure to request that a message be sent out to those in San Diego affected by the fire.
"Tell San Diego we're thinking about them," Headley said. "I know there's some big-time fires going on. I know some people in our organization that have been affected by it, and I just want to let them know we're thinking about them."
Healthy Quentin excited to return to lineup
CINCINNATI -- Carlos Quentin played in his first game this season in Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Reds. He was in the starting lineup and went 0-for-3 with a walk.
The outfielder started the season on the disabled list after incurring a bone bruise on his left knee in March while sliding to make a catch during Spring Training. Prior to that, Quentin had undergone three surgeries on his right knee since joining San Diego in 2012.
Quentin played in 82 games last year, hitting .275 with 21 doubles, 13 home runs and 44 RBIs in 320 plate appearances.
"It feels good. I finally get to start my season," Quentin said before Tuesday's game. "It's all positive. My body feels all right. I'm all ready to go.
Quentin played in seven rehab games between Triple-A El Paso (3) and Class A Lake Elsinore (4), batting .167 (3-for-18) with a home run. He said the biggest challenge has been getting his stamina back.
"It's more just a stamina and endurance thing," he said. "I hadn't played for a month and then had about a week of rehab. I've gotten my feet under me, but we'll just monitor that."
Padres manager Bud Black was thrilled to have Quentin back in the lineup at the same time as others that have been injured recently, including Chase Headley and Yonder Alonso. Tuesday marked the first time since Sep. 5, 2012 that Black had penciled all three into the starting lineup together.
"When you draw it up in the winter time and you look at it, that's what it's supposed to look like," Black said of Tuesday's lineup card. "It's good to see. Now obviously, we've got to carry it over onto the field with performance, but with Q and Headley back in there, and the way Smitty [Seth Smith] is swinging the bat, you know, Jedd [Gyorko] and Yonder down towards the middle or back part of that lineup, and their potential, it looks pretty good."
Quentin said he's excited that the lineup is looking more like San Diego had projected coming into camp in the spring.
"It feels good to just be back in the lineup," he said. "I think it's key that we're all healthy and can complement each other and take the pressure off each other. That's how our lineup works, and we look forward to getting that going."
Black not shuffling rotation after superb start to May
CINCINNATI -- The Padres' starting rotation has been stellar so far in May, posting the National League's best ERA in the 10 games going into Tuesday's series opener against the Reds. The staff had a 2.40 ERA (16 ER in 60 IP) and had yielded three runs or less in all 10 contests. Friars starters turned in seven quality starts over that span.
Southpaw Eric Stults earned one of those quality starts in his last outing against the Marlins on Saturday, tossing six innings and allowing two runs on six hits while walking none and striking out four. Stults said the key to continuing the rotation's recent success in hitter-friendly parks like Great American Ball Park and San Diego's next stop -- Coors Field -- is to focus on pitching, not the venue.
"I think as a pitcher, you can't let that get in your head, that it's a hitter's park," Stults said before Tuesday's game. "You've still got to execute pitches. A lot of pitchers have thrown good games in [Great American Ball Park], and good games can be thrown in Colorado. Mentally, not letting yourself think about that, but also, I think in parks like this, it's walks that can kill you, giving guys free passes. So it's just about throwing strikes."
Padres manager Bud Black is very pleased with the recent outings he's gotten from his starters, and despite his recent consideration of shuffling the rotation with an off-day on Monday in order to break up back-to-back lefties Stults and Robbie Erlin, Black said he's going to stick with the current order.
"No rotation changes," Black said Tuesday. "We're not going to do that. Tyson Ross will pitch on Thursday and Stults and Erlin will pitch the first two games in Colorado."
• With Quentin being activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, the Padres optioned outfielder/first baseman Kyle Blanks to Triple-A El Paso.
• Shortstop Everth Cabrera was back in the lineup for Tuesday's series opener against the Reds after taking paternity leave Sunday to be present at the birth of his daughter.
• Right-hander Dale Thayer took paternity leave to be with his wife, Lisa, for the birth of their fourth child and fourth daughter on Monday morning, named Layla Kate. The Padres recalled right-hander Kevin Quackenbush from Triple-A El Paso as the corresponding roster move.
• Going into Tuesday's series opener against the Reds, the Padres were 13-1 on the season when scoring four or more runs in a game. Their .929 winning percentage when scoring four or more was third-best in the Majors, behind only the Brewers (20-1, .952) and the Nationals (16-1, .941).
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.