There’s a line from the classic movie “Dazed and Confused” where the junior high teacher responds to kids who are trying to leave class early in order to avoid getting beat up by the high school seniors: “It's like our sergeant told us before one trip into the jungle. Men, 50 of you are leavin' on a mission, 25 of ya ain't comin' back.”
As they embark on a seven-game road trip, they face a foe in the Chicago Cubs who are no stranger to playing for "next year." Currently in last place in the National League Central, the Cubs are now 17 games under .500 after losing five straight and eight of their last 10. Needless to say, neither of these teams are making postseason plans.
But there’s always next year and beyond, something the Friars are squarely focused on as they continue to reshape their roster for the future. At least they get to spend the week at the “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field.
Let’s look at the upcoming series.
Tuesday, 5:05 p.m.: Eric Stults (L, 3-11, 4.98) vs. Kyle Hendricks (R, 0-0, 6.00)
Stults leads the league in losses, but has allowed just seven earned runs in his last four starts. Hendricks is making just his second big league start, allowing four runs in six innings in his debut.
Wednesday, 5:05 p.m.: Ian Kennedy (R, 7-9, 3.62) vs. Tsuyoshi Wada (0-0, 0.00)
After allowing just two earned runs in his previous three starts, Kennedy gave up four in five innings against the Mets over the weekend. Wada pitched five scoreless innings in his MLB debut.
Thursday, 5:05 p.m.: Tyson Ross (R, 8-10, 2.70) vs. Edwin Jackson (5-10, 5.61)
Ross has allowed just seven earned runs in his last six starts. Meanwhile, Jackson has coughed up 12 runs in his last nine innings of work and hasn’t won in over a month.
What’s at stake: Well, not too much. The teams split a series at Petco Park earlier this year and this is the last meeting between the two, so the season series is on the line. The Cubs are trying to avoid the worst record in baseball – they lead the Rangers and Rockies by a game. Aaaaand, that’s about all to look forward to in this battle of trade deadline sellers.
Who to watch:
Padres: Catcher Yasmani Grandal is starting to heat up with homers in his last two games. He is now second on the team with nine, but still sports an ugly .214 batting average. Outfielder Seth Smith had four hits over the weekend and leads the current roster with 11 homers and 29 RBIs (Headley has driven in 32 runs). Infielder Chris Nelson has four hits in his first 10 at-bats since his call-up from Triple-A last week.
Cubs: Former Padres prospect Anthony Rizzo leads the team with 23 homers is tied for the team lead in RBIs (53) with fellow All-Star Starlin Castro. Outfielder Justin Ruggiano is hitting .362 in July. Recent call-up Arismendy Alcantara has 10 hits in his first eight games in the majors.
Coming up: The Padres head south to Atlanta for a four-game series against the Braves this weekend before coming home to face the St. Louis Cardinals and Braves again next week.