The Miami Marlins, expected to resemble a bunch of tilapia instead of their fighting fish moniker this season, have been one of the biggest surprises in baseball. They are tied for the lead in the NL East with a 19-15 record and take a four-game win streak into their weekend series with the Padres.
The caveat: They also carry the league’s worst road record (2-10). That includes a six-game skid that came right after they first played the Padres in April.
Unfortunately for the Friars, they’re playing like they couldn’t catch a catfish right now, failing to win their last five series. They dropped the rubber match against the Royals on Wednesday in devastating fashion, making two errors – both by shortstop Everth Cabrera – in the first inning of an 8-0 defeat.
Now they hope to trap the fish in their Petco Park net before hitting the road next week.
When they play: The four-game series starts tonight at 7:10, followed by Friday night’s game at the same time. Saturday’s baseball night in San Diego starts at 5:40 p.m. and Sunday’s finale is 1:10 p.m.
What’s at stake: This is the second and final series between the two teams. The Marlins took two out of three in Miami in the first week of the season, because that’s what everyone does against the Padres.
Obviously, nobody’s worrying too much about who is in first place in early May, but the Marlins would surely like to see their name atop the standings as long as possible.
The Padres, treading water until they get their lineup back to full health, see themselves sinking further with every series loss. Taking three of four would do wonders as another road trip looms.
Who is pitching: Ian Kennedy (2-4, 3.43 ERA) gets the nod for the Padres tonight, squaring off against Jacob Turner (0-0, 9.90). If there was ever a guy to get some Padres bats going against, Turner is the man.
Padres youngster Tyson Ross (3-3, 3.30) goes against early Cy Young candidate Jose Fernandez (4-1, 1.74) on Friday. The fireballer is averaging 10 1/2 strikeouts over his last four starts.
On Saturday, Eric Stults (1-3, 5.40) gets the nod versus Nathan Eovaldi (2-1, 2.78) and Robbie Erlin (1-4, 4.95) takes the mound for Sunday’s finale against Henderson Alvarez (2-2, 2.62).
Who to watch: We’ve already talked about the Padres' top-notch bullpen, so we’ll focus on the hitters – or whatever you want to call this lineup.
Cameron Maybin has seven hits in his last four games but strangely has yet to drive in a run on the season. Yasmani Grandal hit a pair of homers against the Royals and now leads the team with four. Chris Denorfia has hits in his last three games, keeping him right around the .300 mark (.297).
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Everth Cabrera has just two hits in his last 30 at bats. Perhaps a day off is in order?
The Marlins lineup revolves around Giancarlo Stanton, who has had a huge start. He leads the
team in home runs (10), doubles (10), RBIs (38) and runs (25). He’s even stolen three bases.
Casey McGehee is swinging a hot bat with 14 hits in his last eight games. He has also driven in 23 runs on the year, but has yet to go deep.
Injury report: A quick note on Padres sluggers who have been on the shelf. Chase Headley (calf) is eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday and is expected back sometime this weekend.
“We’re heading in that direction,” manager Bud Black said Wednesday. “That’s the plan.”
Carlos Quentin (knee, other knee) began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso, but Black was more cryptic about his return.
“There’s no telling,” Black said, adding that Quentin would need at least a few games. And to keep things mysterious, he added: “Anything’s a possibility.” So, there you have it.
Why go: There’s no shortage of reasons to visit Petco Park this weekend. Thursday is College Night. Friday is the park’s 10th anniversary postgame fireworks show. Get a 10th Anniversary Commemorative Canvas Art Collectible on Saturday. Junior Padres can play catch on the field and get autographs before Sunday’s game, which is also the usual military appreciation.
What’s next: It’s back to the road for series with the Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies next week. The Friars return home on May 20 for a pair against the Minnesota Twins and four with the Chicago Cubs.