Yonder paces Padres through NL West
Despite last two losses, San Diego performing well in division
DENVER -- The Padres head home after completing their first tour through the National League West, and they're stacking up pretty well so far.
Their eight wins in the division are more than any other team, and they sit atop the standings in a virtual tie with the Dodgers.
"It's going to be a grind, we know that," first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "We know this division is always like that. It's tough. But we feel like we're competitive. We feel like we have a great team. We just have to go out there and compete. Any given day you can win or lose, as long as we play solid baseball, everyday consistent baseball, whether it's baserunning, defense, or timely hitting. If we do those things, we're going to be all right."
Alonso has paced the team as they've taken on the West, and he's hitting .400 (22-for-55) on the season with a homer and eight RBIs. He was 3-for-3 Thursday in a 2-1 losing effort in Colorado.
"He got his hits, which is great to see," manager Bud Black said. "He's having good at-bats. He' seeing the ball well. He got on base in the ninth. We've talked about it at length with Yonder. Just collect hits, score runs, knock 'em in when they're out there. He's doing his part for sure."
When the Padres offense fires on all cylinders, they've been tough to beat, outscoring opponents by a tally of 85-63. Additions like leadoff man Wil Myers (.292), Matt Kemp (.333), Justin Upton (.288), Derek Norris (.317) and reserve Cory Spangenberg (2-for-4 Thursday to improve to .313) have made the Padres' lineup among the most intimidating in the division.
"There are some good lineups in here," Black said of the division. "The Arizona lineup is good, this [Colorado] lineup's good, the Dodger lineup's good. I think when the Giants get [Hunter] Pence back and a couple of the other guys healthy, they're going to have a good lineup too. There's some offense in this division."
For the most part, the Padres have been able to quiet those offenses, and their pitching is second to none in the NL West, with their 3.10 ERA through Thursday more than a half run better than their closest competitors in the Dodgers.
"Just take it pitch-by-pitch, day-by-day," Alonso said, using the approach that's led to his six-game hitting streak as a model for how the team can approach its pennant pursuit. "We have to just keep it going, keep working. Prepare yourself every single day. Every at-bat counts. Every pitch counts. Stay with ourselves. We're a team that can hit. We're a team that can play defense. We just gotta learn from these two games. We just have to continue to battle. Learn from our mistakes, learn from things we did today and move on."
There's room for improvement, but within their division, its hasn't gotten any better than the Padres.