As the Padres and the entire city of San Diego try to return to normal after the tragic death of the legendary Tony Gwynn, we focus more of our attention back to the field.
After the Padres gritted out a pair of Interleague wins over the Seattle at Petco Park this week, they now host the rival Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game weekend set.
They face a Dodgers squad that is riding high on a three-game win streak that includes Wednesday night’s amazing no-hitter from Clayton Kershaw – the team’s second of the season.
Emotions will no doubt still be high from the tributes to Gwynn, but there’s an L.A. team to beat. Let’s break down the series.
Friday, 7:10 p.m.: Ian Kennedy (R, 5-8, 3.72) vs. Dan Haren (R, 7-4, 3.54)
Kennedy walked more than three batters for the first time all season his last time out, giving out four free passes to the Mets. He’s lost two straight after winning three in a row. Haren has walked just three in his last four starts, winning his last two.
Saturday, 7:10 p.m.: Tyson Ross (R, 6-6, 3.27) vs. Josh Beckett (R, 4-4, 2.49)
Ross has sandwiched a pair of quality starts into three ugly outings, surrendering five runs and seven walks his last time out. Beckett has been lights out since throwing the other Dodgers no-no on May 25, allowing three runs or less in five straight starts.
Sunday, 1:10 p.m.: Eric Stults (L, 2-9, 5.76) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (L, 8-3, 3.18)
It’s been more than a month since Stults last won a ballgame (May 10) as he takes a six-game losing streak into the weekend. Ryu has five quality starts in his last six outings, winning all of them.
What’s at stake: A few weeks ago, it looked like it was the Giants’ world and the rest of the NL West was just playing in it. But a recent skid has brought them back to earth and given the division some hope – especially the Dodgers.
L.A. sits just four games back and appears poised to make a second-half run similar to last year, when they ran away from the division after trailing by 9 ½ games exactly a year ago this weekend. In fact, they won the last two games of a series with the Padres on this same weekend last year that kicked off an amazing stretch in which they won 46 of their next 56 games and ran away with the division.
Meanwhile, the Padres hope the worst is over after an ugly skid where they lost eight of nine and now find themselves 12 games out of the division lead. All is not lost, especially with the Giants struggling and the third-place Rockies just 3 ½ games ahead.
The Friars have 19 of the next 22 games against division foes. If they have a run in them, this is the time to make it.
Who to watch:
Padres: Outfielder Seth Smith continues to lead the team in most hitting categories, including average (.280), homers (six) and extra-base hits (25) despite just three hits in the last week.
Catcher Rene Rivera has just two hits in the last week, but both cleared the fences. We’ll take it! Tommy Medica doesn’t get a chance to play every day, but makes the most of them. He drove in a run with a pinch hit on Wednesday, then had a hit and scored a run on Thursday. He should get more opportunities to play with Yonder Alonso hitting the disabled list.
Dodgers: It was this same weekend last year that Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig made his big-league debut. Since his arrival, all Puig has done is hit, continuing that trend this year with 11 homers, 42 RBIs and a .325 average. Former Padre Adrian Gonzalez leads the team with 12 long balls and is tied with Puig and Hanley Ramirez with 42 knocked in. He has five hits in his last four games.
Why go: As if you need any more reason to go hate-watch the Dodgers, you can get a “Beat L.A.” t-shirt on Saturday night.
Coming up: The Friars head up the coast for a series with the Giants before coming back to Petco next weekend to start a nine-game homestand that includes the Diamondbacks, Reds and Giants once again.