Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.
It's been more than a month since Padres manager Andy Green first floated the idea of using closer Brad Hand in high-leverage situations in the eighth inning as well as the traditional save role.
But Green has now put the plan into action, deploying Hand several times in the eighth to face the heart of the opposition's order or tough left-handed hitters. And it's working.
Hand got a two-inning save against Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon -- after entering in the eighth to impressively dispatch left-handed hitters Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis.
And on Saturday, Kirby Yates got his second save in less than a week after Hand faced the toughest part of the order in the eighth rather than be held back for a save situation.
Although Craig Stammen allowed two inherited runners to score Saturday, all three of the Padres' leverage relievers -- Stammen, Yates and Hand -- all have ERAs under 2.00.
Stammen, who has been credited with wins in three of his past five appearances, has a 1.78 ERA in 27 games. Hand has a 1.95 ERA in 29 games. And Yates has a 1.13 ERA in 25 games.
• Right-handed starter Tyson Ross didn't get the win Saturday against the Marlins. But the Padres won, continuing a good run for San Diego. The Padres are 10-3 in games started by Ross this season. They have also won six straight games started by Ross, dating back to May 12. Ross has a 3.43 ERA after being charged with four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
• Outfielder Hunter Renfroe doubled as a pinch-hitter Saturday and scored the go-ahead run on Travis Jankowski's two-out single in the top of the eighth. Renfroe is 3-for-4 as a pinch-hitter since returning from the disabled list on May 28 with a pinch-hit grand slam, a double and five RBIs. He has reached base in 10 of the 11 games he's appeared in since returning from the disabled list.
• Shortstop Freddy Galvis was 2-for-4 Saturday with his third homer (second in his past 14 games) and two RBIs. He has reached base by hit or walk in nine straight games, dating back to May 30.
• Second baseman Jose Pirela has reached base in 10 of his past 11 starts after going 1-for-5 Saturday.