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Ross the emerging ace of the Padres staff

Notes on Kemp, Alonso, Spangenberg, Jankowski

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

In my mind, Tyson Ross has become the ace of the Padres rotation.

The 28-year-old right-hander stepped up again Monday night at Petco Park, shutting out the Texas Rangers on three hits over seven innings.

Ross joined James Shields as the second Padres pitcher to reach double digits in wins this season.

But Ross is getting stronger as we get deeper into the season.

Ross is 4-1 over his last seven starts with a 2.76 earned run average. The Padres are 6-1 in those starts. Ross is 7-2 over his last 14 starts since June 20 with a 2.68 ERA. The Padres are 11-3 in those starts.

Overall, Ross is 10-9 with a 3.27 ERA that is the lowest among Padres starters with more than five starts. His ERA is at its lowest-point since his first start of the season. And the Padres are 16-12 when he starts.

There is more. So much more.

-- Ross has allowed five home runs in 165 innings - his 0.27 home runs-per-nine-innings rate being the best mark in the Major Leagues. It is also the third-lowest in franchise history. Ross has allowed just two homers in his past 23 starts, a run that includes no homers in a franchise-record 16 straight starts.

-- His swing-and-miss rate of 31.5 percent is the fourth-highest mark among Major League starting pitchers. He has 175 strikeouts in 165 innings. The count is the sixth-highest total in the National league and his strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate of 9.6 is the fifth-best mark in the National League - although Ross trails teammate Shields in both categories.

-- And Ross's ground ball rate is the second-highest in the Major Leagues.

Ross is not perfect. He leads the Major Leagues in walks allowed with 72 and his ball-to-strike ratio has driven up his pitch count and led to some early departures. But he has allowed only 21 walks in his last 11 starts - after allowing 51 in his first 17.

Ross has all the tools - topped by a wipe-out slider - to top a rotation.


-- Matt Kemp had a RBI double in four at-bats with a walk Monday night to extend his on-base streak to 20 straight games. That is the longest on-base streak of Kemp's career, the longest active streak in the Major Leagues and the longest by a Padre since Chase Headley reached base in 22 straight games from July 3-28, 2013.During the streak, Kemp is hitting .321 (26-for-81) with five homers and 22 RBIs. Kemp hit .304 in August (31-for-102) with five homers and 25 RBIs in 26 games. The RBIs were the most in a month by a Padre since Headley had 30 RBIs in September of 2012.

-- Brett Wallace has four hits in his last four pinch-hitting appearances and is 6-got-7 with two walks in his last nine pinch-hitting appearances with two doubles and a home run for five RBIs and three runs scored. Each of Wallace's last eight hits has come as a pinch-hitter, the longest streak by a Padre since Ramon Hernandez had nine in 2004. Wallace's .375 (12-for-32) batting average as a pinch-hitter this season is the second-highest mark in the Major Leagues. He has three doubles and two homers as a pinch-hitter for nine RBIs.

-- Infielder Cory Spangenberg is hitting .306 (11-for-36) with a .375 on-base percentage in 13 games since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 14. He has three doubles and a triple, although his RBI Monday was his first since his return. He has scored five runs.

-- First baseman Yonder Alonso is 5-for-10 with a double, a RBI and four runs scored in his last two games and is hitting .344 (21-for-61) with a .403 on-base percentage in 19 games since Aug. 10 with three doubles, a home run, six RBIs and 15 runs scored.

-- Center fielder Travis Jankowski snapped a 0-for-15 slump with an infield single in his first at-bat Monday night and finished 2-for-4 with the first extra-base hit (a triple) and steal of his Major League career.

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