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Monday, May 25, 2009
Updated: May 27, 2:44 AM ET
Credit the pitching for Padres' streaking ways

ESPN.com

Chris Morrison/US PRESSWIRE

Chase Headley's two-run homer Monday led the Padres to their 10th straight win.

By John Kruk, ESPN

People might want to make a big deal about the San Diego Padres winning 10 consecutive games, but I don't think it's that great a story yet. Their 9-7 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday snapped an 11-game road losing streak, and was only the fourth time this month they had scored six or more runs.

The Padres are beset with offensive issues much like their NL West rivals, the San Francisco Giants. The Padres are anchored by an impressive 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation in Chris Young and Jake Peavy, while the back end is held down by closer Heath Bell. All they really have on offense is first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who has quietly become one of baseball's best players.

The Padres are on a winning streak for two reasons. First, their starting pitching has been great at home, and the first nine wins came during a nine-game homestand. When the Padres' pitchers are at Petco Park, they know that even if they make a mistake, the ball will probably still stay in the park. Obviously, that relaxes a pitcher, and the more relaxed a pitcher is, the better he will pitch. We're seeing a staff that is exceptionally relaxed at home because of that knowledge.

Secondly, opposing hitters can get intimidated when they play in such a severe pitchers' park. When I played, the power hitters on my team would travel to the Astrodome and wonder what the heck they were going to do with the ball. Luckily, they were smart enough to make adjustments, and we walked out with wins more times than not. But it takes a disciplined hitter to say before a game that he'll settle for line drives when he's known for being a power hitter.

Given the Padres' pitching and the mentality of opposing hitters, you're going to see the type of scores that we've seen from opposing teams at Petco. During the Padres' nine-game winning streak, only the Reds have scored more than three runs against them, and they did it twice.

The Padres were widely picked to be dead last in the NL West ... and for good reason. At the beginning of the season, the "Baseball Tonight" crew did the game between the Padres and the Mets, and Jake Peavy asked us to name more than five other players on his team. We struggled to name them off the top of our heads. That's just how anonymous this squad is to baseball insiders.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: May 24 | May 21 | May 20 | May 19 | May 18

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPPITCHER SITUATION
A. Gonzalez, SD17AriDavisTop 4: 2-2, 0 Outs. None on.
J. Mauer, Min11BosPapelbonBot 9: 1-2, 2 Outs. 1 on.
C. Headley, SD4AriPenaTop 10: 1-1, 0 Outs. 1 on.
G. Sheffield, NYM4WasLannanBot 6: 0-0, 0 Outs. 2 on.
R. Garko, Cle4TBBalfourBot 9: 1-1, 2 Outs. 2 on.

The complete list of Monday's homers

ON DECK: TUESDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

Cardinals at Brewers, 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Brewers have yet to lose to the Cardinals in four games this season, and Brewers starter Jeff Suppan has won eight straight decisions and is 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his last six starts against St. Louis. In fact, Suppan is the only active pitcher Albert Pujols hasn't homered against (in at least 25 at-bats). He'll be facing Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright.

Tigers at Royals, 8:10 p.m. ET

Any time Zack Greinke (7-1, 0.82 ERA) is on the mound, the game is worth watching. The Royals' ace beat the Tigers on April 24 with a complete-game three-hitter, striking out 10. He'll face Edwin Jackson (4-2, 2.55 ERA). The first-place Tigers have won eight of their last 10 games.

Red Sox at Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET

Any chance to see Joe Mauer hit right now is a treat. The Twins' All-Star catcher has 11 home runs in 23 games; his career high is 13. But he's never homered against Red Sox starter Jon Lester. Meanwhile, Red Sox leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury has pieced together a 20-game hitting streak and is batting .330 during the streak. David Ortiz, who didn't play Monday, could be back in the lineup against Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn.

For the rest of Tuesday's schedule, click here.

BBTN ON THE AIR: TUESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Peter Gammons, Chris Singleton

12:20 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Chris Singleton

POWER RANKINGS: WHO'S NO. 1?

INSIDE EDGE

Who's had the most effective fastball so far in 2009? Inside Edge tracks the top and bottom 10 pitchers in terms of their opponents' batting average against their fastball.

Top 10 Pitchers: Opp. BA vs. Fastball
Minimum: 241 fastballs thrown. League average BA is .285.
Jonathan Broxton, LAD .100
Seth McClung, MIL .143
David Aardsma, SEA .157
Andrew Bailey, OAK .159
Danys Baez, BAL .162
J.A. Happ, PHI .162
Heath Bell, SDG .167
Scot Shields, LAA .182
Dan Haren, ARI .189
Ryan Perry, DET .196
Bottom 10 Pitchers: Opp. BA vs. Fastball
Hayden Penn, FLA .367
Brad Bergesen, BAL .370
Felipe Paulino, HOU .385
Dana Eveland, OAK .387
Carl Pavano, CLE .392
Brad Ziegler, OAK .393
Scott Olsen, WAS .411
Jason Hammel, COL .414
Luis Ayala, MIN .417
Ricky Nolasco, FLA .435

WEB GEMS

MONDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Sanchez• There were several brilliant performances Monday from the likes of Chris Carpenter, Phil Hughes, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Garko, but the choice is Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who went 6-for-6, with a home run, 3 RBIs and four runs scored in the Pirates' 10-8 victory over the Cubs.
WORST
IsringhausenJason Isringhausen gets the booby prize, but it could be awarded to the entire Rays' bullpen in the Indians' 11-10 come-from-behind win. The Rays led 10-2 after seven innings but everything unraveled as they surrendered two in the eighth and seven in the ninth. Isringhausen was on the mound at the bitter end, walking the first three batters, then giving up the decisive two-run single to Victor Martinez.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Lidge Phillies closer Brad Lidge blew two saves this weekend, giving him four this season, after he converted all 48 saves in leading the Phils to the World Series title in 2008. Lidge is still throwing in the mid-90s and says his knee is healthy, so what is behind his early-season struggles? Lidge isn't locating his slider, so hitters are sitting on his fastball -- and getting good ones.

Brad Lidge: Last two seasons
2008 2009
Slider in zone pct. 44.8 38.7
*Mid/mid and mid/in pct. of FB 9.9 15.8
Well-hit avg. vs. FB .151 .455
Slug pct. vs. FB .354 .909
*Percent of all fastballs thrown that were down the middle or middle in to the hitter

As Lidge struggles to throw his slider in the strike zone, he's grooving fastballs just to throw strikes. And hitters are laying off the slider and waiting for fastballs they can hammer.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF TUESDAY'S GAMES

Adam Madison examines the 15 games on Monday's slate.

Fantasy Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Tuesday. Daily Notes