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Well, not Chris Young. Chris Young is on another planet altogether, with no splash down indicated anytime soon.

But the Padres pitching staff as a group, has dropped back into the domain of accomplishments usually reserved for Earthlings. It had to happen sooner or later. Pads pitchers are actually human. We know that now, and this is how humans pitch.

There’s no expression for pitchers which rivals the “even the best hitters fail seven out of 10 times” line, but if there were, it would certainly apply to the San Diego staff. Jake Peavy is still Jake Peavy. Mostly. But even Peavy can occasionally succumb to what the average hurler experiences on a fairly regular basis.

Peavy gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings Sunday, and three runs in six innings in his previous start. Not a huge deal, as far as “bad” starts go. Probably doesn’t even qualify as a glitch. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting. Peavy’s human.

Justin Germano has had three rough outings, allowing four runs in six innings, seven in four, and five in 6 2/3, sandwiched around a solid start, in which he tossed 6 1/3 scoreless. At a minimum, Germano’s work does qualify as a glitch. If it proves to be a trend, the Padres have something to worry about from here on out. We’ll see.

While there’s no similar concern with Greg Maddux, he has been knocked around a bit in three of his last four outings. And David Wells has been driven from the box in two of his last three starts. Meanwhile, Young just cruises along, on his way to what will no doubt be a National League ERA title.

Actual humans inhabit the bullpen too, apparently. Doug Brocail has allowed seven runs in his last two outings, while getting just 10 outs. Cla Meredith’s been pitching well, so his five-run drubbing at the hands of the Phillies Saturday is perhaps not completely meaningless, but pretty close to it. Even the best of relievers have a couple of days per season where they’d wish they’d just stayed in bed. So no worries with Cla at this point in time, nor with Heath Bell particularly, and of course, not with Trevor Hoffman either.

Then there’s Scott Linebrink, who gave up the crushing three-run homer to David Wright Wednesday, to blow a win for Maddux, only to come up with the W himself. He’s had a few other sub-par performances in recent weeks too, so there might be some concern there.

Linebrink’s trade value reached its peak in the spring, when his name was mentioned in trade rumors across the continent. Clubs are counting down to the July 31 waiver-free trading deadline as we speak. Whether the Padres would part with someone like Linebrink this time, finally, remains to be seen. But if you’re a Linebrink fan, you might want to hold your breath, because you can bet your seat on a future space shuttle flight, savvy general managers are inquiring.

— HOWARD COLE

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