Complete coverage of the 2014 season

Series Preview: Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There may be a simple explanation why the Padres haven’t won more games this year: They haven’t played the Diamondbacks yet.

    Arizona brings a 9-22 record into their three-game series at Petco Park – worst record in the league and five games behind the fourth-place Padres in the NL West.

    The Padres have lost four of six games after dropping a pair to the San Francisco Giants this week. Let’s see if the Friars can distance themselves a bit more from the D’backs, who are actually a better team away from home (6-7 on the road, compared to a miserable 3-15 in Phoenix). Fortunately, the Padres have owned them in Petco Park, winning 10 of the last 13.

    When they play: The series starts tonight at 7:10 p.m., followed by baseball night in San Diego on Saturday at 5:40. The two teams finish up their series Sunday at 1:10 p.m.

    What’s at stake: It’s time for the Padres to start producing – especially on the offensive end. Getting three with the lowly D’backs might just be the cure. A sweep here would put San Diego at .500 for the season. They have seven more home games after this series before hitting the road, and some home cooking could help ease what ails them.

    For Arizona, the fact that they haven’t hit double digits in wins after the first month of the season is not a good sign. Although you hate to write anybody off in the first week of May, well, time’s running out real quick on this team.

    Who is pitching: The Padres get their top three starters for the weekend set, while the Diamondbacks send out … wait, do they even have an ace?

    Andrew Cashner (2-3, 2.68 ERA) hasn’t pitched like an ace in losing his last two outings, but figures to return to his lights-out form sooner rather than later. He has been unhittable at home, allowing just two earned runs in 22 ½ innings. He battles Bronson Arroyo (1-2, 7.77 – ouch) tonight.

    Ian Kennedy (2-3, 3.16) looks to build on an impressive outing last week in Washington. He gets the nod on Saturday against Brandon McCarthey (0-5, 5.54 – double ouch).

    Tyson Ross (3-3, 3.68) throws the finale for San Diego, facing off against Wade Miley (2-3, 5.36).

    Who to watch: Although his seven-game hitting streak was snapped in San Fran, Chris Denorfia is still swinging a hot bat, leading all regulars with a .314 average. Cameron Maybin has hit safely in three of his four games since returning from the disabled list.

    The last time Rene Rivera got the start, he homered and drove in five runs – his first RBIs of the season and nearly equaling his total from last year (five). He’ll get the start tonight with Cashner on the mound.

    And it’s time to take notice of what the Padres bullpen has done so far this season. Their 1.79 ERA is best in the league and an opponents batting average of .194 is tied for tops. Closer Huston Street (10 saves, 0.82 ERA) has yet to blow a save this season. Every reliever who has thrown at least 10 innings this year has an ERA under 3.

    For the Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt is building on a career year from last season. He has four homers and 18 RBIs – more than any Padres player – and racked up six hits in Arizona’s series with Colorado this week.

    Catcher Miguel Montero has hit in five straight games and nine of 10. He also had a game-winning home run against the Rockies.

    Why go: Tonight is the Padres’ first Beerfest of the season. Samples from 20 different breweries will be available at Park in the Park starting at 5 p.m. It’s also Teacher Appreciation Night. Don’t be tardy!

    Every fan in attendance on Saturday will get a Padres beach blanket. Sunday, as always, is Military Appreciation Day and Kids Fest

    What’s next: This is the start of a 10-game homestand. The Kansas City Royals come in for a three-game interleague series on Monday. The Miami Marlins hit town Thursday for a four-game weekend set.

    Matthew Wood covers the Padres for #OnFriar. Reach him at matthew.wood@nbcuni.com and follow him on Twiitter @mcarloswood.

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