Complete coverage of the 2014 season

Series Preview: Padres vs. Kansas City Royals

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Padres salvaged an otherwise miserable weekend series with the Arizona Diamondbacks with a walk-off win on Sunday. That saved them from getting swept by the worst team in baseball, going 17 straight innings without a run in the process.

    Now they welcome the Kansas City Royals for an interleague matchup between two similar teams. Each is in fourth place in their respective division. Each team is on the other side of .500, having just lost four straight. And each team is struggling to score runs – the Royals have scored the second-least in the American League, the Padres’ 84 runs are the lowest in all of baseball.

    When they play: The series opens tonight at 7:10 p.m., followed by the same start on Tuesday and a 12:40 p.m. start for getaway day on Wednesday.

    What’s at stake: Getting back to the .500 level has to be at the top of the list for both of these teams, who have flirted with the mark all season. The Royals (14-16) seemed to be on a run before getting swept by the division-leading Tigers over the weekend. The Padres (14-18) had a chance to move even last week before dropping a pair to the Giants. It’s time for one of these teams to make a move.

    Who is pitching: Eric Stults (1-3, 5.34 ERA) comes off a start in San Francisco where he couldn’t make it out of the third inning. He goes up against surprising Royals youngster Yordano Ventura (2-1, 1.50) in the opener.

    Robbie Erlin (1-4, 5.83) is just looking for a good outing. He has lost four straight after winning his first start of the season. He takes on Jeremy Guthrie (2-2, 4.50) on Tuesday.

    Padres ace Andrew Cashner (2-4, 2.72) tries to snap a three-game losing streak of his own in Wednesday’s finale against James Shields (3-3, 3.11).

    Who to watch: Padres manager Bud Black raised some eyebrows when three catchers made the opening-day roster. But all three have contributed when given the chance. Rene Rivera drove in a pair on Sunday and now has seven RBIs in his last three games. Nick Hundley (.342 average) keeps hitting when he’s in the lineup and Yasmani Grandal has four hits and a homer in his last three starts.

    Cameron Maybin has eight hits in his seven games back from the disabled list. And don’t look now but Jedd Gyorko has hits in seven of his last eight games.

    Billy Butler is hitting .381 over the last week, but the team will have to find a spot in the field since he has primarily served as designated hitter. Nori Aoki has hits in six of seven games.

    Why go: Taco Tuesday. Enough said.

    What’s next: The Miami Marlins come to town for a four-game set over the weekend. That series includes College Night on Thursday and the Petco Park 10-year Anniversary fireworks on Friday.

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