Against lefties, Yonder Alonso has the right stuff

ATLANTA -- If the Padres ever had designs on sitting first baseman Yonder Alonso more often than not against left-handed pitching, it passed early.

Alonso, a left-handed hitter, has shown that he's more than just proficient against southpaws. Going into Wednesday's game against the Braves -- and against left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm -- Alonso is hitting .274 in 110 at-bats with a .352 on-base percentage against lefties.

The Padres have used Jesus Guzman on occasion at first base against a tough left-handed pitcher. But more often than not, it's Alonso.

"It's crazy, but my whole life I've hit lefties well," Alonso said. "So I think for me, it's not that much of a shock. Even in college, I hit lefties well. I think you have to be patient and aggressive with lefties. You know that you're going to have to hit their pitch."

Overall, Alonso is hitting .276 with 31 doubles, six home runs and 42 RBIs this season, which is his first full Major League season. His average is as high as it's been since June 2, when he was hitting .280. And in the month of August, he's hitting .349 in 43 at-bats.

On Monday against Braves' left-hander Mike Minor, Alonso was able to hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield to allow Chris Denorfia to advance to third base. Cameron Maybin then hit a sacrifice fly to give the Padres an early lead.

Later in the game, and with Minor still on the mound, Alonso was able to shorten his swing and single up the middle through a drawn-in infield to score Denorfia from third base.

"I feel comfortable with him in there," said Padres manager Bud Black.

Black didn't just laud Alonso for his success against lefties, but for what he sees as a young hitter who is faring better in terms of situational hitting with runners in scoring position.

"It's become a focus with him," Black said. "He's learning how to drive in runs [different ways]. I think his situational hitting has been much better."

Alonso has knocked in 24 runs in his last 136 at-bats dating back to July 1. Prior to that, he had 18 RBIs in his first 266 at-bats in April, May and June combined.

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