The San Diego Padres have officially become contenders this year for a number of reasons. One, the hitters have figured out that they aren't going to hit a ton of home runs in their home park. They've changed their mentality and are now comfortable stringing together hits and hitting line drives to score runs. That's a major development because in the past they've complained about the ballpark without changing their playing style. Now they are driving in runs and not waiting for the three-run homer to come from the middle of the lineup. Now every hitter in the lineup knows what he has to do and it's made offense easier for the team.
They are bunching hits together whereas last year they wanted a walk, single, homer. Right now catcher Ramon Hernandez is their best clutch hitter. He comes up with big hit after big hit and has to continue to do that with Mark Loretta out.
The second reason for the Padres sudden contender status is the pitching has started winning games. A large part of the reason for the success of guys like Adam Eaton and Jake Peavy actually resides in Boston in the form of David Wells. I recently spoke with Wells and he said those two guys were constantly asking him questions about the tactics and strategy of pitching.