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After a disastrous start to the 2013 season, the San Diego Padres have clawed their way back to a .500 winning percentage (34-34) and trail the Arizona Diamondbacks by just three games for first place in the NL West.
San Diego’s fifth consecutive win came with a veteran performance by Jason Marquis, who gave up three runs in 6.2 innings after struggling through the 1st inning, and an impressive display of hitting by the Padres’ core of young stars.
Kyle Blanks rediscovered his stroke, going 2-for-4 with a solo home run, but the loudest bat of the night belonged to Yasmani Grandal. Padres Manager Bud Black has been starting Grandal regularly since the second-year player returned from a fifty-game suspension and, while Grandal has done a nice job managing the pitching staff, he has had difficulty getting comfortable against big league pitching. That ended tonight, with the young catcher finishing 1-for-2 with a walk and a three-run home run that gave the Padres the lead in the bottom of the 4th inning.
Everth Cabrera continued to be the table-setter for the potent Padres offense, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base and a run scored. Although Chase Headley has not yet come out of his hitting slump, and Carlos Quentin hasn’t been the same player he was in 2012, the emergence of Cabrera as an All-Star level Shortstop may be the key to getting the franchise back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Clayton Richard, who has undoubtedly been the weak point of San Diego’s pitching staff so far this season, will go for the sweep of the Diamondbacks and the Padres’ sixth consecutive victory on Sunday before the team travels north to take on the San Francisco Giants in a match-up that could determine which team finishes the month at the top of division standings.