Here is a sentence I never thought I would type this baseball season:

The San Diego Padres are above .500.

When the Padres began the season 5-15, it figured there was a better chance they would be 20 games below .500 in mid-June, not one game above the break-even mark.

But here they are – sporting a 35-34 record after a six-game winning streak – to reach .500 for the first time since the opening week of the 2011 season. Manager Bud Black’s salary should immediately be doubled.

Apparently, this team inching above .500 is quite the stunner to the folks in San Diego who are paid to accurately inform the public of facts involving the Padres.

The newspaper in major decline that now goes by U-T San Diego wrote that it is the first time the Padres have been above .500 since the end of the 2010 season. A couple other on-site entities also had it wrong.

The lone sports source that had that such an easily researchable fact correct on Sunday night was Sports Direct –

So while journalism in San Diego continues its lengthy decline, the local baseball team is surprisingly on the upswing.

The Padres are just two games out of first place in the National League West despite first baseman Yonder Alonso, second baseman Jedd Gyorko and center fielder Cameron Maybin being on the disabled list. Left fielder Carlos Quentin could be headed to the DL and shortstop Everth Cabrera’s status is in question after suffering a hamstring injury in Sunday’s victory over Arizona.

Don’t forget that third baseman Chase Headley missed the first couple weeks with a thumb injury and that catcher Yasmani Grandal just returned from a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. The Padres are thriving despite not yet fielding their best lineup this season.

On the pitching front, Clayton Richard spent time on the disabled list and finally had a superb outing on Sunday and Edinson Volquez continues to be a head case with nobody knowing how he will fare from one start to the next.

Despite a collective .249 average and 4.20 earned-run average, the Padres are just two games off the pace. Makes you wonder what could happen over the second half of the season once everybody is healthy.

Cabrera is having an All-Star season with a .305 average and 31 steals and powerful Kyle Blanks is coming into his own with five homers already this month. Starting pitchers Jason Marquis (9-2, 3.63) and Eric Stults (6-5, 3.28) are exceeding expectations and the bullpen has a solid closer in Huston Street and a reliable trio in Luke Gregerson, Dale Thayer and Joe Thatcher.

This is a better overall team than most people realize. And due to the NL West being bunched up – and no team looking intent on running away from the pack – this could be an interesting summer for San Diego baseball fans.

Staying above .500 could soon be the norm – and not something happening for the first time in 26 months.


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