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Padres Hit the Road vs. Reeling Rockies

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Chase Headley hits a single during the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park on July 4.

    This past nine-game home stand was much like a roller-coaster ride. There were a lot of ups and down, but eventually it didn’t lead much of anywhere.

    The Padres won a season-best five straight games, including their first series sweep of the year. But that was sandwiched by a pair of losses to open and close it out. Which leaves them with a 5-4 record and in much the same place as before. Sure, they picked up a game and a half in the standings and moved up to third place, but a team that’s more than 10 games out in July needs to do more than just tread water.

    The good news is there are still chances to make a move before the All-Star break – starting with this week’s series against the Colorado Rockies, who the Padres just passed for third place in the National League West.

    To say the Rockies have struggled lately would be an understatement on the same level as saying the Padres have had a little trouble at the plate this year. Colorado has lost 10 of the last 12 and is 2-17 since sweeping the Giants in mid-June. Ouch.

    It’s always an adventure when you head to Coors Field. The Padres hope that involves scoring some runs and beating up on an already wounded foe. Let’s break down the series.

    Matchups:
    Monday, 5:40 p.m.: 
    Ian Kennedy  (R, 6-9, 3.87) vs. Tyler Matzek (L, 1-2, 4.25)
    Kennedy has a 3.56 ERA in seven career starts at Coors. The rookie Matzek has three quality starts in his first six big-league outings.
    Tuesday, 5:40 p.m.: Tyson Ross (R, 7-8, 2.93) vs. Franklin Morales (L, 4-4, 5.51)
    A newly named All-Star, Ross is coming off a three-hit shutout and has allowed more than two earned runs just once in the past month. Morales is making just his second start since May after a demotion to the bullpen.
    Wednesday, 12:10 p.m.: Eric Stults (L, 3-11, 4.96) vs. Jair Jurrjens (R, 0-1, 15.43)
    Stults broke an eight-game losing streak – including six straight starts – with seven scoreless in a win against the Giants last week. Jurrjens got rocked in his first outing of the year last week, allowing 12 hits and eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.

    What’s at stake: The Rockies went from middle of the pack to bottom feeders over this awful stretch. They find themselves in a similar spot to the Padres just a few weeks ago – fighting to stay out of the cellar and avoid the worst record in baseball.

    Meanwhile, the Padres can still think about making moves in the playoff run if they can reel off some wins this week – the first-place Dodgers are up next. That’s been easier said than done as they have the worst division record among West teams (14-20).

    The Padres are 3-4 against the Rockies so far this season, including losing two of three at Coors in May. They meet again at Petco Park in August.

    Who to watch:
    Padres:
    Chase Headley is finally starting to heat up with a five-game hit streak that includes four hits on Friday. He’s improved his average to .217 (don’t ask what it was before). Alexi Amarista had six hits in four games before going 0-for-4 on Sunday. Seth Smith -- an All-Star snub? – had just one hit in the Giants series, but still leads the team with nine homers, 26 RBI and 19 doubles. Jake Goebberts is making a solid case as an everyday starter with a .333 average in his first 11 games in the bigs.

    Rockies: Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki earned a much-deserved starting role on the NL All-Star squad. He leads all of baseball with a .350 average and .442 on-base percentage. He also leads the team with 18 homers and has a remarkable 47 walks. Outfielder Charlie Blackmon also earned an All-Star spot. He’s hitting .291 with 12 homers and 47 RBI. Fellow outfielder Corey Dickerson is hitting .335 in 66 games this year.

    Coming up: The Padres head to LA for a four-game set this weekend to close out the first half of the season before the All-Star break.

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