Tucson Padres: Robertson, bullpen help Padres get on right track

2013-04-29T00:00:00Z Tucson Padres: Robertson, bullpen help Padres get on right trackKyle Johnson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

After being shut out by the Salt Lake Bees on April 16, center fielder Daniel Robertson and the Tucson Padres were staring at a 3-9 record and facing an early crossroad in the season.

Robertson said they had two options - stay on the same path to the bottom of the standings or change to a different lane. It looks like they made the right turn.

"I think we made that decision as a whole, we made that decision that we're going to try something different," Robertson said before Tucson's 7-4 win over Colorado Springs at Kino Stadium on Sunday. "3-9 wasn't working out, so try something different and you're seeing the results."

The Padres have won eight of their past 11 games and sit 1 1/2 games out of first place in the PCL's Pacific South Division.

The turnaround has to come with a grain of salt, as Tucson stayed within striking distance during the rough start to the season. The Padres either lead or were tied after six innings in seven of the nine losses. The law of averages dictates the results would eventually start going their way.

But, teams still have to stay positive with the breaks continually going against them. That's just what Tucson did.

"I think whenever your team struggles, there's an opportunity there to reveal the character of your club," manager Pat Murphy said. "I think they revealed their character that they weren't just going to be doormats the way that sometimes it's been in the past around here."

Putting the intangibles aside, Tucson also had to change the on-field product to get results. The team needed someone to take the lead.

Up stepped Robertson.

Over the past 11 games, Robertson has a .425 batting average and a .675 on-base percentage.

And as strange as it sounds, his impact wasn't only felt on the offensive end, but also in the bullpen.

"He's been hitting like crazy," relief pitcher Tommy Layne said. "I don't want to jinx him, but … when you see him consistently get on base, it makes it contagious on the bat rack, to get up, get a hit and knock him in.

"On the same token it does the same thing for the bullpen."

Knowing that the offense is clicking helps pitchers stay locked into the game and confident once they take the mound, Layne said. The numbers seem to tell a similar tale.

After combining for a 7.71 ERA during an earlier 1-6 stretch, the bullpen has amassed a much more respectable 4.60 ERA over the past 11 games.

"It's not like we were trying to lose a game before, but just some of the opportunities weren't there; we weren't capitalizing," Robertson said. "I think we're capitalizing more now and I think it's just our mentality that's different."

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