San Diego Padres: Nick Hundley Making Case for Starting Catcher Gig

Darren FeeneyCorrespondent IJune 2, 2010

DENVER - APRIL 09:  Catcher Nick Hundley #4 of the San Diego Padres looks on as he works behind the plate against the Colorado Rockies during MLB action on Opening Day at Coors Field on April 9, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 7-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It was the tale of two nights for the San Diego Padres.

Mike Pelfrey threw eight solid innings to lead the New York Mets to a 4-2 victory to even the series, one night after the Padres exploded for a Petco Park-record 18 runs.

Ike Davis and David Wright each homered to give Pelfrey more than enough run support. Pelfrey (8-1) won his fourth straight start by holding San Diego to one run and four hits, while striking out eight to match his career best and walking two.

On Monday night, the Padres had 19 hits in an 18-6 victory.

Wade LeBlanc's struggles continued Tuesday night. He allowed two runs and seven hits in five and one-third innings, walked four and struck out four. Manager Bud Black made a mound visit just five batters into the game. After not surrendering a single home run in his first six starts, LeBlanc (2-4) has allowed five homers in his last three starts and is 0-4 with a 6.43 ERA in his last four starts, yielding 24 hits in 21 innings.

The Padres (31-21) still have the best record in the NL, in large part because of their ability to win close games. The Padres have won 12 games this season scoring three runs or less. No team in the majors has won more than six games scoring three runs or less.

The Padres' hero this past week has been catcher Nick Hundley, a position San Diego has rarely gotten much production out of.

Hundley's three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning Saturday against the Washington Nationals was the difference-maker in the 4-2 win. He had a game-winning, pinch-hit single in the bottom of the 11th inning Sunday to squeak out the 3-2 victory. He went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI in the Padres' 18-6 onslaught Monday night and 3-for-4, again, Tuesday night with one of the Padres' two RBI.

Hundley's productivity hasn't gone unnoticed by Padres manager Bud Black. Black continues to pencil in Hundley in the all-important five-spot in the batting order, behind Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Headley in an effort to provide some protection.

Over the last 10 games, Hundley has raised his batting average from .229 to .292.

Hundley's production comes at an opportune time. San Diego Padres catcher Yorvit Torrealba has been placed on the restricted list for personal reasons and is expected to be away from the team for at least three days.

Overall, the Padres catchers have 31 RBI—making the catching position first on the team (Gonzalez has 28 RBI) in terms of run production.