Volquez's prep as impressive as performance

Volquez's prep as impressive as performance

SAN DIEGO -- As you might expect, Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley was plenty pleased with the one-hit shutout Edinson Volquez tossed in Thursday's 1-0 victory over the Astros.

But it wasn't any sequence of pitches or any particular pitch that or, really, anything that Volquez did during the start that impressed Balsley.

It was more the preparation than the execution that stood out most.

"He's really starting to study hitters more, and he's really focused on looking at the strengths of each hitter before a start," Balsley said. "He's doing a much better job of being prepared."

Of course, Volquez had a good idea of how to pitch some of the Astros, especially since he was pitching in the National League Central while with Reds up until this season.

Volquez needed 117 pitches to get 27 outs on Thursday, walking three with five strikeouts. The lone hit came in the fourth inning, when Matt Downs reached on an infield single.

In three starts this month, Volquez is 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 21 innings. He's allowed 13 hits over that stretch and has generally been much sharper than he was in June, when he posted a 4.08 ERA in six starts.

"I just think the focus lately has been a little stronger," Balsley said.