5/14/2014 7:01 P.M. ET
Alonso in a rhythm at plate
By Manny Randhawa / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Yonder Alonso had a slow start to the 2014 campaign, hitting .167 in the month of April. But the first baseman has put together a solid first half of May, hitting .281 (9-for-32) on the month through Tuesday. Over his previous five games entering Wednesday, Alonso was hitting .412 (7-for-17) with two doubles.
"Just rhythm," Alonso said of what has changed for him recently. "Just relaxing at the plate and making sure I get a good pitch to hit. For me, it's always just a matter of time before I'm gonna start hitting, doing the things I want to do. But rhythm goes along way.
"… I just think I've been focusing a lot more on my work pregame, during batting practice and in the game. I've been locked-in and focused. I think if you do a good job of working before the game and making sure those things are solid, everything else will get taken care of in the game.
Alonso was 0-for-3 in the series opener against Cincinnati on Tuesday, but said that a hitless game will happen from time to time, and doesn't take away from the groove he's in.
"That's baseball, man," he said. "It's not every day you're gonna go 3-for-3. It's just part of the game and you've just got to continue to work and continue to have solid work in the cage and so on and so forth. And just keep going."
The Padres hope that Alonso's good at-bats do keep going, as the recent returns of Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin to the San Diego lineup could finally give an offense that struggled until last weekend a big lift.
"It's great. It gives us a boost," Alonso said of having Headley and now Quentin back. "We have a lot of weapons and guys that can get it done. It's definitely a lot of fun. We have a good group of guys, lefty-righty matchups too, and guys that can hit for power and average. It's fun to see those guys and know they're going to be on base when you're hitting."
Street attributes reliability to short memory
CINCINNATI -- Dating back to exactly one year ago Wednesday, Padres closer Huston Street had converted 37 of 38 save opportunities. He earned his 12th save in 12 chances in 2014 with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out San Diego's 2-1 victory over the Reds on Tuesday.
What's been the key to being so consistent and reliable? According to Street, it's a short memory.
"I guess I don't even think about the past 37 of 38, or eight years or nine years [in the Majors]," Street said Wednesday. "To me, what I've learned is to just play today. Your past saves aren't gonna get you saves, just like your past blown saves aren't gonna blow any more saves. The only person that's responsible for the next pitch is you, and I think that's the most important thing that I've done."
As of Wednesday, Street had posted a 0.53 ERA (1 ER in 17 IP) and 19 strikeouts to five walks, with a WHIP of 0.82 and a strikeout per nine innings rate of 10.1. He said the key to starting off the season as well as he has is trial and error over the years as to what type of work to put in during Spring Training.
"It's the toughest thing to do, to be completely honest," Street said of getting back to baseball after the offseason. " … As I get older in my career, I've learned the processes in Spring Training and I've learned the physical needs in Spring Training that are going to put me in that position … It's really identifying what are three or four key things that I need to be doing at different parts of the day, from playing catch, to my nutrition, to my sleep, and my physical activity throughout the day."
Street added that once all the preparation is complete during the spring, however, and he gets into the game, everything else fades away and his entire focus is on the moment.
"Once I get into a game, it's a battle," Street said. "You go out there, you make the next pitch. Today I'm not thinking about the save last night. It's over with, it's done. The instant the last out is made, in a perfect world, you're instantly over it."
Padres manager Bud Black said the word reliability is synonymous with Street, and it's been great to have such a reliable closer since the right-hander came to San Diego in 2012.
"If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times that this guy knows how to work his way through a ninth inning to get a save," Black said. "He's been doing it for a long time … Huston has been groomed for this. He's doing his job.
"He'll be the first to tell you: 'That's what I'm supposed to do.'"
• Right-handed reliever Dale Thayer was back with the Padres after taking paternity leave to be with his wife in California for the birth of his fourth daughter, Layla Kate, on Monday. San Diego optioned right-handed reliever Kevin Quackenbush to Triple-A El Paso.
• Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that a scoring change was made from the Padres-Nationals contest on April 26, changing a hit by Jayson Werth to an error on second baseman Jedd Gyorko (his fifth of the season). That results in the starting pitcher for San Diego in that game, Andrew Cashner, having his earned run average lowered to 2.35 (15 ER in 57 1/3 IP) after two earned runs were subtracted from his total for the season.
• Headley's go-ahead solo home run off Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's 2-1 Padres win came on a 99.4 mph fastball. That was the hardest-thrown pitch hit for a homer in the Majors this season, and the hardest-thrown pitch ever hit for a home run by a Padres player since data began being tracked in 2008.
The previous fastest pitch hit by a Padres player for a homer was a 98.1 mph offering -- also from Chapman -- hit by Chris Denorfia on July 29, 2013.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.