The battered and bruised San Diego Padres came off the road for a 10-game homestand hoping to get better.
They're off to a good start.
After losing the season's first three series, the Padres finally took a set over the weekend, beating the Detroit Tigers in two out of three games behind some outstanding pitching and, for a change, some timely hitting.
It may be premature to declare the Padres (5-7) cured as they open a four-game series with the National League West rival Colorado Rockies on Monday, but it was certainly encouraging for San Diego fans to see Jedd Gyorko and Chase Headley hit their first home runs of the season over the weekend.
As the underperforming offense showed signs of awakening -- finishing off Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer in five innings Sunday -- starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross overpowered the Tigers to earn their first victories of 2014.
Cashner was especially impressive, one-hitting the Tigers Friday 6-0, giving up only a soft sixth-inning single to Rajai Davis in one of the best-pitched games in Padres history. Cashner, looking more and more reminiscent of Hall of Famer Don Drysdale, will take a 1-1 record and 1.29 earned run average into his start Wednesday against the Rockies.
Cashner also threw a one-hitter last September, and is now the odds-on favorite to record the first Padres no-hitter. The hard-throwing Texan was still lighting up the radar gun at 98 in the ninth inning Friday, when he struck out 11.
Ross, coming off two poor starts to open the season, made some mechanical adjustments and outpitched Scherzer on Sunday for a 5-1 victory. Ross held the Tigers to six hits in seven innings while striking out seven and lowering his ERA more than a full point, to 3.12.
The Padres still must improve their overall hitting and hitting with men in scoring position, but things are looking up. Leadoff man Everth Cabrera is batting .347, and catcher Yasmani Grandal is at .391.
Notes -- More good news on the horizon: disabled-listed outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin are both on the mend. Maybin (ruptured biceps tendon) has started a minor league rehab assignment and could return sometime in May. Manager Bud Black said Maybin, who was injured diving for a ball early in spring training, is essentially starting from scratch and won't be rushed. ... Quentin (bone bruise in knee), the cleanup hitter who has been sorely missed, is expected to start taking live batting practice early this week. He's been out since hurting his knee sliding into second in a spring game. ... On the DL downside, pitcher Josh Johnson (forearm strain) remains on the shelf, still reporting some discomfort. "Nothing is imminent," Black said. ... Reserve outfielder Xavier Nady so far has two hits -- both homers.