Could this be the start of something good? The Padres look to build on their first series win of the season as the division rival Colorado Rockies come to town for a very winnable four-game set starting tonight.
The Padres’ pitching dominated a robust Tigers lineup over the weekend, shutting them out in the opener and holding them to a single run in the rubber match as they took two of three games against the three-time AL Central champs.
The bats even got warmed up in the process, something that bodes well against a Rockies rotation that nobody will mistake for Cy Young candidates.
The Rockies (6-7) actually lead the Friars (5-7) by a half-game in the standings, but have lost three of their last five, including two games in a weekend series against the San Francisco Giants.
When they play: This is the middle series of a 10-game homestand at Petco Park. The teams play night games on Monday through Wednesday, starting at 7:10 p.m. Thursday’s getaway game will be at 3:40 p.m.
What’s at stake: Both teams are jockeying for position in the NL West behind the Dodgers and Giants, who square off in San Fran this week. If one team can take three or four games in this series, they can get right up in the mix early on in the division race.
Who is pitching: The Pads look to build on some strong performances over the weekend, including a dominating one-hitter from Andrew Cashner (1-1, 1.29 ERA) on Friday. He takes the mound Wednesday, meaning the bottom of the rotation must get it done early on in the series. Eric Stults (0-2, 5.59) gets the call in the opener, looking to turn out his first quality start of the season. He’s followed by Robbie Erlin (1-0, 1.35), who threw a gritty six innings to beat the Cleveland Indians last week. Ian Kennedy (1-2, 4.24) takes the mound Thursday in the finale.
For the Rockies, Jordan Lyles (2-0, 3.86) will try to stay perfect on the season tonight with Juan Nicasio (1-0, 3.75) following on Tuesday. Jorge De La Rosa (0-2, 9.69) has looked like anything but an ace so far this season, giving up 14 earned runs in three starts. He will try to right the ship against Cashner on Wednesday. Thursday’s starter has not been announced.
Who to watch: How about those Padres bats! Everth Cabrera continues to bolster the top of the San Diego order, despite striking out a team-high 16 times. He’s on a six-game hitting streak, pounding out five hits over the weekend.
De-facto cleanup hitter Jedd Gyorko drove in runs in all three weekend games, jacking his first long ball on Sunday. Catcher Yasmani Grandal is making a case for more playing time, with a pair of hits in his only start over the weekend. And how about Xavier Nady – two hits, both for home runs this season.
For Colorado, Charlie Blackmon (who?) is absolutely on fire with 20 hits in his first 41 at-bats (.488). Michael Cuddyer has picked up where he left off last year when he won the league batting title. He’s hitting .354 with three long balls. And you can’t talk about the Rockies lineup without mentioning Carlos Gonzalez. CarGo leads the team with four homers and 13 RBI.
Why go: Tuesday is Jackie Robinson Day throughout the league. All players will wear No. 42 on their jerseys to honor the baseball pioneer. It’s also the season’s first Taco Tuesday. Get tacos for a buck. Tickets are available for all three games.
What’s next: The Giants come to town this weekend in another key division matchup. Will the Padres be in striking distance of first place by the time they get to town? Well, let’s just take it one game at a time.
Matthew Wood covers the Padres for #OnFriar. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @mcarloswood.