Complete coverage of the 2014 season

Trip to First-Place Giants Looms for Struggling Padres

Team continues to make off-field news.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Everth Cabrera celebrates a walk-off sacrifice fly on Friday night as the Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    While the Padres continue to make news off the field, the product when the team actually is playing remains the same. And that’s not good.

    General manager Josh Byrnes was dismissed over the weekend, apparently the target of rumors of shakeups that had been swirling around the team over the past few weeks. Manager Bud Black got a thumbs up from CEO Mike Dee – at least through the end of the season – but we’ll see if that’s the extent of the front office shakeup.

    Meanwhile, on the playing field the Friars (32-44) lost two of three to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and now find themselves 13 ½ games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants. Speaking of, the Padres head up the coast this week for a three-game set with those Giants, a team that looked to be running away with the division before losing six straight and nine of 10 over the past two weeks.

    The Padres find themselves behind the eight ball before the series even starts, as ace Andrew Cashner was scratched from Monday night’s start. That’s not good for a team that’s still ranked last in all of baseball – by quite a bit – in runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. On the flip side, it means we get our first look at Cuban rookie Odrisamer Despaigne. Could we be seeing the future? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    Instead, we’ll take a look at the upcoming series in NorCal.

    Matchups:
    Monday, 7:15 p.m.:
    Odrisamer Despaigne (R, MLB debut) vs. Matt Cain (R, 1-5, 4.52)
    Despaigne was 1-3 with a 6.03 ERA in seven starts between Double-A and Triple-A. Cain is 0-2 with a 5.85 in his last four starts and hasn’t won in more than a month.
    Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.: Jesse Hahn (R, 2-1, 2.16) vs. Tim Hudson (R, 7-3, 2.39)
    Hahn hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last two starts, both wins. Hudson had gone 10 straight starts without allowing more than three earned runs before giving up seven to the White Sox in his last outing.
    Wednesday, 12:40 p.m.: Ian Kennedy (R, 5-8, 3.90) vs. Tim Lincecum (R, 5-5, 4.90)
    After throwing at least six innings in seven straight starts, Kennedy has failed to get out of the sixth in his last two. Lincecum hasn’t won (or lost) two starts in a row all season.

    What’s at stake: As the Padres continue a stretch of 19 out of 22 divisional games, they try to hold off the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks – as well as the worst record in the National League. They lead by 1 ½ games over the D’backs. The three-game win streak we saw last week seems like a distant memory after a pair of close losses to the Dodgers.

    The Giants righted the ship after their rocky stretch, winning a pair over the weekend to hold a four-game lead over L.A. They now trail the Milwaukee Brewers by a game for best record in the NL.

    Who to watch:
    Padres:
    All eyes will be on Despaigne, the hyped 27-year-old Cuban who makes his big-league debut tonight.

    How close was Seth Smith to hitting three home runs on Friday night? Just a couple of feet, as his late-inning fly ball to deep center fell just short and landed for a double. He had to settle for his seventh and eighth long ball of the season, leading the team. He also is on top of the Padres’ stat sheet in most categories, including a whopping 35 walks.

    Rookie Jake Goebbert has impressed in his first two games with the team, picking up a pair of hits.

    Giants: Outfielder Michael Morse has thrived in his first year in the Bay Area, belting a team-high 13 homers with 44 RBIs. He has hits in nine of his last 10 games.

    Fellow outfielder Hunter Pence has been hitting above .300 all season and has 16 hits in his last nine games.

    Catcher Buster Posey and third-baseman Pablo Sandoval both have nine long balls on the season.

    Coming up: The Padres come back to Petco for a nine-game homestand starting this weekend. They host the D’backs, Cincinnati Reds and this Giants squad during that time.

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