Complete coverage of the 2014 season

Light-Hitting Padres Must Produce vs. Nationals

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Leave it to the Padres to win a game while getting just one hit.

    That’s what they did on Wednesday, staving off a sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a lone bunt single that somehow turned into a 3-2 victory. But when you’re the most offensively challenged team in the league (last in baseball in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS and runs scored, among others) you take what you can get.

    Help is on the way, as the Friars took hitters with their top two picks in this week’s MLB Draft. Not that it will do any good this year.

    Watch: Padres celebrations this season

    Enter this weekend’s opponent, the Washington Nationals, a team that shares the Friars’ propensity for pitching – their 3.10 ERA is fourth in the league, just ahead of San Diego’s 3.37. Fortunately for the Padres, we won’t see staff ace and local product Stephen Strasburg (who leads the league in strikeouts) or Doug Fister (who just won his fourth straight start this week) at Petco Park.

    And if recent history serves as an indicator, we probably won’t see a lot of hits. Not that the Padres need too many to be victorious, but it wouldn’t hurt.

    What’s at stake: The Nats are coming off a series sweep against Philadelphia, pushing their record above .500 and ruining the Padres’ string of playing 16 straight games against teams at or below that mark. They have now won five of six and are just a game behind Atlanta and Miami in the NL East.

    Oh, to be in the playoff hunt. The Padres halted a three-game skid with their one-hit wonder but still trail San Francisco – sporting the best record in baseball – by 12 games. Recent slides by the Dodgers and Rockies have pulled the Friars closer to the pack in the West, but the Giants are still a danger of running away with this thing.

    Let’s just focus on winning a weekend series – or at least getting more than one hit.

    Matchups:
    Friday, 7:10 p.m.:
    Tyson Ross (R, 6-4, 2.85 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (R, 3-4, 3.25)
    Ross has been the team’s best pitcher – and one of the best in baseball – with quality starts in five of his last six outings. He also sports a 1.54 ERA at home. Roark dominated the Padres earlier this season, tossing a three-hit shutout.

    Saturday, 7:10 p.m.: Andrew Cashner (R, 2-5, 2.35) vs. Blake Treinen (R, 0-2, 1.40)
    Cashner makes his first start since going on the disabled list last month with arm soreness. He has been lights out, allowing more than two earned runs just once this season. Treinen makes his third major league start and is still looking for his first win in the bigs.

    Sunday, 1:10 p.m.:  Eric Stults (L, 2-6, 5.03) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (R, 4-2, 3.59)
    Stults has lost three straight, but has still just 13 walks allowed in 62 1/3 innings this year. Zimmermann has been similarly stingy, allowing just 14 in 67 2/3 IP.

    Who to watch:
    Padres:
    Man, it sure is hard to find a hitter in this lineup who has done much of anything lately. Carlos Quentin? No hits in his last 12 ABs. Everth Cabrera? Two for 14. Yasmani Grandal’s single on Monday was his only hit all week. Jedd Gyorko hasn’t had a hit in his last 14 at-bats and got even worse news on Friday as he was placed on the DL with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

    Even Seth Smith has cooled down, hitting just .182 over the past 10 games. But he’s still 10th in the NL with a .306 average. He has gone more than two weeks without a multi-hit game, so he fits right in on this lineup.

    Part-timer Will Venable is the only player hitting above .275 over the past week with five hits in his last 10 at-bats. Get this guy in the lineup!

    Nationals: Shortstop Ian Desmond leads the team with 11 homers and 33 RBI, but is hitting just .225 on the season. The team got third baseman Ryan Zimmerman back this week from the DL after nearly two months. He picked up right where he left off with four hits against the Phillies. Zimmerman is hitting .364 on the season, albeit in just 44 at-bats. His absence allowed infielder Anthony Rendon to get regular time in the lineup, and he has impressed with three homers and a .341 average over his last 10 games. Slugger Bryce Harper will be out until at least the end of the month as he recovers from thumb surgery.

    Why go: It’s a festive weekend at Petco. Friday is the team’s Summer BeerFest. Kegs are tapped at 5 p.m. sharp. Saturday is the team’s beach blanket giveaway and Sunday is the usual military salute and Kids Fest.

    Coming up: The team hits the road after this weekend, heading to Philadelphia, New York and Seattle. They return June 18 for a pair against the Mariners before the Dodgers come down for a weekend set starting the 20th.

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