Led by budding superstar Wil Myers and his record-setting slugging, the Padres put together a respectable and very exciting month of June. After opening the season with a 9-15 record in April, then digging themselves deeper with an 11-18 May, San Diego played .500 ball in June, going 13-13. They played nine series against seven teams, four of which have a winning record; they won three, lost three, and split three.
Along with his 11 home runs, which stand alone as the most ever hit by a Padres player in June, Myers hit 10 doubles to give him a total of 21 extra-base hits, tying him with Greg Vaughn circa May, 1998, for the most by a Friar in any month. All those long hits played a role in him recording 33 RBI after coming into the month with 22. Those 33 RBI led the league, as did his 11 homers and 25 runs scored; he finished third in walks and doubles, ending the month with a stellar .327/ .429/ .765 (1.194) line.
Myers wasn't the only Padre swinging a hot shillelagh in June. Matt Kemp hit just three homers after hammering 13 in April and May, but added six doubles and 24 singles for a total of 33 hits, good for fourth in the league, and slashed .320/ .351/ .466 (.817) to bring his season line up to .259/ .277/ .466 (.743); most impressively for him, he took six bases on balls after walking unintentionally only twice in the first two months. Derek Norris also broke out after an appalling first two months of the season. He hit .273/ .318/ .506 (.824) to raise his average from .179 to .211, and doubled his home run output with five. Those five were good for third on the team behind Myers and Melvin Upton, Jr, who hit six to double his tally as well. Upton also stole eight bases, good for second in the league, one behind Billy Hamilton of Cincinnati. Even light-hitting infielder Adam Rosales got in on the act, batting .270/ .357/ .676 for a whopping 1.033 OPS. In just 42 trips to the plate, Rosales stroked ten hits, eight of which were good for extra bases - four doubles, a triple, and three homers. Prior to this month he had just four doubles and a pair of homers in 85 at-bats while batting a meager .165.
Another Friar who went on a tear at the plate in June was center fielder Jon Jay. Before being felled by a broken arm which went misdiagnosed as a bruise for over a week, Jay went to the plate 77 times in 18 games, slashing an impressive .356/ .390/ .466 (.856) with 26 hits, which led the league when he went on the shelf. Eight of those 26 were good for two bases, giving him 24 on the year, a total which still leads the league even after everyone else has had 11 days to catch up.
One of the litany of of sidelined Padres who Jay joined on the disabled list was Andrew Cashner, who made his second trip to the DL this season earlier in the month thanks to a strained neck. He was replaced on the active roster by recent acquisition Erik Johnson, who seems like the perfect candidate for a strained neck due to how often he whips his head around to watch baseballs go over the fence. Brought over from the White Sox in the trade that sent fellow home run dispenser James Shields to Chicago on June 4, Johnson has struggled with his new club, to put it very mildly. He has earned the loss in each of his four starts, getting taken deep an astounding nine times in just 19.2 innings; if not for a catch by Upton which we'll be seeing for years to come, Johnson would have allowed ten homers in that short time. As it stands, he has a WHIP of 1.88 and a 9.15 ERA which exceeds that of Rule 5 rookie Luis Perdomo, who continues to make strides of improvement and has had stretches of competence and flashes of his potential since being pressed into the rotation out of good old-fashioned sheer desperation. He made four starts this month along with a relief appearance that was practically a start, when he took over when Cashner left the game after one batter. He allowed 21 earned runs in 27 innings for an ERA of 7.00 which brought his season mark down to 8.49, and struck out exactly one batter per inning, walking just nine batters in those 27 innings after walking 17 in his first 26 of the season. Perdomo went 1-2 this month, but did make two quality starts.
While Perdomo's ugly numbers represent improvement, moral victory, and hope for the future, that is not the case for Christian Friedrich. His 5.08 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, and five home runs allowed in 33.2 June inning over six starts seem more indicative of regression. He got good results in his second and third starts of the month, allowing just a pair of earned runs from 13 baserunners over 12.2 innings, but his past three starts have been reminiscent of his struggles with Colorado in years past. He gave up 16 runs, 14 of which were earned, on eight walks and 20 hits, four of which left the park. In that time his ERA jumped from 2.12 to 3.96.
The other former Rockie in the rotation, All-Star Game candidate and de facto ace Drew Pomeranz, continued to be the most reliable starter on the staff. Like Friedrich, he went 3-2 in June, but did so on the strength of solid numbers. He did allow 11 earned runs in his middle three outings of the month, a total of 16 innings, but sandwiched that, his first remotely rough patch of the season, with a pair of games in which he worked seven shutout innings. His 3.30 June ERA puffed his overall mark up to 2.76, and his 33 strikeouts in 30 innings brought his season total up to 102 in 88, an astonishing rate of 10.43 per nine innings.
Of course baseball is more than just numbers, and this month had its fair share of memorable moments and then some. The one that will likely be remembered the longest is the one we'd most like to forget. In the second game of the month, San Diego appeared certain to get off to a 2-0 start when they jumped out to a 12-2 lead over Seattle. The Mariners then clawed their way up and committed murder by a thousand paper cuts, going on to win 16-13 as those of us who remained at Petco Park stammered in what sadly was not disbelief. It was by far the most devastating loss of the month, although the largest margin of defeat came nine days later. At least that 13-4 beatdown at the hands of the Marlins was not void of bright spots. Fans were treated to seeing a pitcher, Perdomo, not only pinch-run, but steal a base, and those who stuck it out until the end got to see catcher Christian Bethancourt make his second scoreless relief pitching appearance of the past two weeks. Additionally, fans of the game as a whole and its history were given the gift of witnessing the ageless Ichiro record three hits to bring his combined total between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball to just one shy of Pete Rose's major league total. Those who were in attendance two days later got to see him tie and pass Rose.
Wil Myers wasn't the only player to make Padres home run history during the month. Back on June 3, the day after making headlines for all the wrong reasons with their humiliating surrender to Seattle, San Diego bounced back with a convincing win over Colorado,their first of two shutout victories in the month. Their first three of four runs came with no outs in the first inning when Matt Kemp got all of the first pitch thrown to him by Chris Rusin, and drove it 458 feet toward K Street. That blast tied one hit by Adrian Gonzalez in 2009 for the longest home run in the 13 season history of Petco Park. Later in the game, as if to thank fans for coming out despite the previous night's debacle, Melvin Upton, Jr, added even more excitement by executing one of the most thrilling events in all sports: a straight steal of home. It was the first by a Friar since Everth Cabrera pulled it off nearly four years prior.
While that game was full of thrills, it was nowhere near as climactic as their series-clinching victory over Atlanta three days later. Trailing going into the bottom of the ninth, San Diego evened things up with a solo shot by the resurgent Norris, then put together a small-ball rally culminating in a single by Myers that sent Alexei Ramirez home. It was their second win in a row; they wouldn't put together a true streak of three victories until June 18 through 21, when they won the final two games of a four-game set at home against the Nationals in resilient come-from-behind fashion both times, then took the first of a pair in Baltimore. After the Orioles split the series, the Padres wasted no time stringing together another three-game winning streak, taking the first three of four games in Cincinnati to give them six wins in their past seven games.
Through all of this, closer Fernando Rodney continued to excel. He made just nine appearances, pitching 9.2 innings, but allowed just one earned run, good for a 0.93 ERA on the month. As if that weren't impressive enough on its own, that was his first earned run allowed this season. His ERA on the season sits at an absurdly microscopic 0.31 in 28.2 innings over 28 games. In that time he has 33 strikeouts, a rate of 10.36 per nine innings, and a WHIP of 0.872. He has converted all 17 of his save opportunities, including seven in June.
Rodney and Myers are virtual locks for the National League squad at this year's All-Star Game, which will be held at Petco Park on July 12. Breakout starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz is not quite as sure of a bet, but still holds a strong case to join them at San Diego's first Midsummer Classic since the 1992 game was held at Jack Murphy Stadium. Manager Andy Green will have a front-row seat to all the action, as he has been selected to the one-day coaching staff of National League manager Terry Collins.
Outside of the All-Star Game and its accompanying festivities, the Padres will play eight series in July against eight different teams for a total of 26 games. They have three series at home, totaling nine games. They will take on the Yankees for three games to start the month, face the Giants on the weekend of July 15 through 17, and close out the month with three contests against the Reds. Their series on the road will be at Arizona, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Washington, and Toronto. Five of their series and 17 of their games will be against teams that are currently above .500, including two division leaders and two wild card leaders. Their work is certainly cut out for them, but June showed that they are capable of holding their own, even with a makeshift roster laden with placeholders as many of the players expected to be key contributors are still on the mend. The Padres' performance over the weeks to come will certainly not propel them toward the postseason, but it could have an impact on what general manager AJ Preller does at the trade deadline.