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Runs hard to come by with Solarte in lineup

Situational hitting a major roadblock for Padres
MLB.com

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

As I walked past Yangervis Solarte recently in the Padres clubhouse, the personable infielder offered a fist-bump and said "three weeks."

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

As I walked past Yangervis Solarte recently in the Padres clubhouse, the personable infielder offered a fist-bump and said "three weeks."

My reaction: "Yikes."

Three more weeks without Solarte in the Padres' offense scares me.

Not only was the switch-hitter one of the Padres' key weapons, he was the club's hottest hitter - and by a long way - when he went on the disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle on June 21.

I hate oblique strains. There is no fixed time that can be applied to healing an oblique strain. It's like bone bruise. It heals at its own pace. I've seen obliques heal in less than three weeks. And I've seen them take more than two months.

The Padres are 3-3 since they lost Solarte. But I doubt a .500 pace is sustainable without Solarte, who was hitting .268 on the season with 10 homers and 40 RBIs in 71 games.

But in the dozen games leading up to his injury, Solarte was hitting .370 (17-for-46) with seven walks, a double, six home runs, 13 RBIs and nine runs scored.

He accounted for better than a run a game - which is a lot considering even with Solarte in the lineup the Padres ranked last in the National League in such team categories as batting average (.226), on-base percentage (.294), runs scored (3.6 per game), hits and RBIs and next-to-last in slugging percentage (.386).

The Padres have struck out 709 times while drawing only 225 walks. One team has struck out more than the Padres, but the Milwaukee Brewers rank third in the National League in home runs and fifth in runs scored.

The Padres hit the long ball. They rank eighth with 94 homers. And homers have produced 132 of their 274 runs (48.2 percent).

Current regular clean-up hitter Hunter Renfroe has 15 homers but only 35 RBIs - a combination of no one getting on in front of his blasts and a .164 batting average with runners in scoring position. But this is not meant to single out Renfroe.

The Padres are hitting .227 in RISP situations. Wil Myers has a .221 RISP average. Erick Aybar a .214 mark. Cory Spangenberg, who was pressed into the clean-up spot Sunday because Renfroe struggles against right-handed pitching, is at .206.

Among regulars, Solarte's .379 average with runners in scoring position stood out . . . which is why he spent much of the season in the cleanup spot.

Not that the Padres have had a lot of RISP opportunities.

Over the season's first 77 games, the Atlanta Braves have had exactly 100 more RISP at-bats than the Padres and have hit 46 points higher for 90 more runs produced. That's more than a run a game better than the Padres.

Manufacturing runs with Solarte in the lineup was difficult. Scoring regularly without Solarte will be . . .

NOTE WORTHY: --RHP Jhoulys Chacin suffered the loss Tuesday night to fall to 4-2 with a 1.83 earned run average at Petco Park this season. He entered the game with the second-lowest home ERA among Major League starters. Chacin has allowed exactly two runs in each of his last four starts. But he is only 2-2 despite a 2.67 ERA in the four games.

--2B Carlos Asuaje reached base three times Tuesday, marking the first time he had reached base three times in a Major League game. He was 2-for-3 with a walk. Asuaje is 4-for-10 in his last three starts.

--CF Franchy Cordero struck out as a pinch-hitter with Manuel Margot's return from the disabled list Monday. Cordero is hitless in his last 26 at-bats since June 17 with 18 strikeouts.

--1B Wil Myers was 2-for-4 with a double Tuesday and has reached base in 12 of his last 13 games, going 13-for-44 (.295) with 11 walks for a .436 on-base percentage.

San Diego Padres