Padres' bats clicking in second half

Padres' bats clicking in second half

SAN DIEGO -- After a rough first half marred with offensive troubles, something has seemingly clicked for manager Bud Black's crew since the All-Star break.

San Diego leads the National League in runs scored (71) and batting average (.281) during that 14-game span, and on Friday, the Padres produced perhaps their most impressive performance of 2014. They defeated Atlanta 10-1 behind a season-high 20 hits, the most registered by the Padres in a nine-inning game since 1995.

On Saturday, Black opined several reasons as to why a team that recently traded away a player considered by many to be the face of the franchise (Chase Headley) and now features castoffs such as Jeff Francouer and Chris Nelson is suddenly averaging a robust 5.1 runs per game.

Other than just plain old luck finally going the Padres way, Black pointed out that the roster shuffling related to the Trade Deadline has coincided with the return of regulars such as Jedd Gyorko, who's 8-for-19 (.421) in five games since returning from a 44-game stint on the disabled list.

He also praised Yangervis Solarte, who was acquired from the Yankees in the Headley deal and has a line of .325/.383/.525 in 10 games for San Diego.

"We changed the roster a little bit, and that brought a little bit of energy and opportunity to the club," Black said. "Solarte has brought a good brand of offensive baseball. … He's added a nice punch to us since he's been here."

Black says the Padres' ability to sustain that success, though, will largely depend on one of its longest tenured players in shortstop Everth Cabrera.

"Cabby relishes the role of leading off a game," Black said. "I think his ego likes that, he wants to be known as that prototypical leadoff hitter."

Since he debuted in 2009, it's been quite clear that Cabrera has the speed and defensive chops to fill such a role. The question has been whether he could hit well enough.

In 2013, Cabrera hit .283 with an OPS of .736, and was the lone Padres player to make the NL All-Star team as a result. But this season, he is batting just .225 with a lowly .560 OPS.

"He's frustrated and disappointed by his statistical measures so far," Black said. "He knows that's his challenge, he's gonna be the first to admit it."

Like many of his teammates, Cabrera has been performing better in the second half. He's come back from a hamstring injury to hit 6-for-16 (.375) in San Diego's last four games.

It's a small sample size, but after the Friars endured one of the toughest stretches in franchise history both on and off the field in the first half, the Padres are eager to turn things around in the last two months of the season.

"We have a lot of new faces in here, and a lot of talented guys," said Tommy Medica, who became the first rookie in Padres history to record five hits in a nine-inning game on Friday. "Right now, it's working. We'll ride this out and see how it goes and just keep on building.

"Our pitching staff has been great all year. If we can score four runs a game -- that's what we want to shoot for -- Who knows what can happen after that?"

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Will Laws is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.