Padilla looks to win his fifth straight decision for the first time in his career Thursday when the Rangers close out a four-game series at the Metrodome against the Minnesota Twins.
Padilla (6-2, 3.16 ERA) endured the worst season of his nine-year major league career in 2007, going 6-10 with a 5.76 ERA for Texas (23-25). In 2008, though, the Nicaragua native has been a revelation for a Rangers rotation that has a 4.45 ERA as a whole.
He has been on the mound for five of Texas’ last 15 wins, going 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA in those outings. Padilla’s hot streak began with a shutout of the Twins (23-23) in Texas on April 27, when he scattered seven hits and two walks while striking out a pair in a 10-0 victory - his first shutout since 2003, when he pitched for Philadelphia.
On Saturday, the right-hander pitched seven strong innings during a 6-2 victory over Houston, allowing two runs and five hits.
“He’s the guy anchoring our pitching staff, and he’s been battling his tail off,” manager Ron Washington told the Rangers’ official Web site of Padilla.
On Wednesday, Texas snapped a three-game overall losing streak - and a six-game skid at the Metrodome - by beating the Twins 10-1.
“That’s why this was huge,” outfielder Marlon Byrd told the Rangers’ Web site. “Very huge. You have to get wins like that. Gets you back on track and lets you know we’re for real, that these last few weeks haven’t been a fluke.”
Sidney Ponson pitched a complete game in a rare strong effort for a Rangers starter other than Padilla. The offense provided him with seven runs in the sixth inning as Texas won for the 16th time in 25 games.
Defense did in Minnesota, as Alexi Casilla’s drop of a soft relay throw at second base in the sixth made six of the Rangers’ runs in that frame unearned.
“We’ve seen it too many times this year,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose club has committed seven errors in its last four games. “You give extra outs in this league, and you get beat.”
Minnesota’s Livan Hernandez (6-2, 3.88) opposed Padilla on April 27, and will do so again on Thursday. Hernandez pitched just 2 2-3 innings in that start, allowing seven runs and nine hits to fall to 3-1 with an 8.75 ERA in four career starts against the Rangers.
The right-hander won his next three starts after that outing before losing to Colorado on Saturday. Hernandez pitched 7 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and eight hits in the 3-2 defeat.
Byrd is 7-for-18 (.389) with a double lifetime versus Hernandez.