Just when it appeared alarm might never go off for the San Diego Padres' offense, the six-week shroud covering the Padres' bats has been shredded.
Facing Miami, one of the National League's toughest rotations, the Padres worked over early Cy Young Award favorite Jose Fernandez 10-1 on Friday and followed up by scalding the NL's hardest thrower, Nathan Eovaldi, 9-3 on Saturday.
Equally satisfying, third baseman Chase Headley came off the disabled list (calf injury) in time for Saturday's game and punctuated his return with a three-run homer. Seth Smith, the team's hottest hitter, added a double, triple, homer and four runs batted in, and first baseman Yonder Alonso went 3-for-3 to pace a suddenly lusty attack.
Presumed cleanup hitter Carlos Quentin, coming back from a serious knee bone bruise, is on a minor league rehab assignment and could be back in the lineup later this week.
Two games is obviously a short sample, and half the lineup's regulars are still batting south of .200, but it's a good sign for everyone to come alive at once.
"It's really encouraging," Headley said after Saturday's game. "Guys are starting to settle down a little bit and have good at-bats. ... If we have the guys we expect to be in the lineup, I feel it's a pretty good lineup."
Hottest of the hot is outfielder Seth Smith, who raised his season average to .327, and is batting .429 at Petco Park. On Friday, slumping new dad Jedd Gyorko belted a grand slam and a two-run homer. The six RBI were the most for a Padre since Headley did it in 2012.
Understand, this is still a team that's last or next-to-last in the majors in batting, slugging and home runs, and has left an embarrassing number of runners on base. But 19 runs and 26 hits in two games is a nice upgrade, and takes pressure off Padres starting pitchers, who've been feeling like they have to throw a shutout every time out (the Pads haven't scored a run for staff ace Andrew Cashner in three starts).
The Padres close out a 10-game homestand Sunday in a finale against Miami, then take off for a road trip to Cincinnati and Colorado.