Now that’s more like it. The Padres looked impressive in taking a weekend series from the San Francisco Giants. They nearly swept the division rivals, but a late rally fell short on Sunday and they dropped the finale, 4-3.
It’s a good way to hit the road as the Friars embark on a 10-game road trip starting today in Milwaukee. The surprising Brewers have started off hot and lead the NL Central by three games, mostly due to a 9-1 road record. But the Pads get them at Miller Park, where they are a much more pedestrian 5-4 on the season.
When they play: Three games beginning tonight, all at 5:10 p.m. local time.
What’s at stake: It’s a big trip for the Friars, as they face three teams with winning records. The goal still has to be just to get through the month without falling too far behind and get some of the big names back in the lineup from injuries. Still in fourth place, the Padres are just three games out. Back-to-back series wins would do wonders for the team’s confidence.
The Brewers have to be pinching themselves after having everything go right this season. They’ve won seven of their last 10 after taking three of four from the Pirates over the weekend. They should concentrate on making no sudden movements so people don’t realize they have the best record in baseball right now.
Who is pitching: The Padres bust out the big guns for this series. Andrew Cashner (2-1, 1.27 ERA) has been nearly unhittable this season. He takes the mound for the opener. He’s followed by Ian Kennedy (1-3, 4.13) who has lost two straight despite striking out seven in each start. Tyson Ross (2-2, 2.13) goes on Wednesday, hoping to build on two straight impressive outings.
The Brew Crew counters with Wily Peralta (2-0, 1.96) on Monday, staff ace Yovani Gallardo (2-0, 1.46) on Tuesday and Cali native Kyle Lohse (3-1, 2.67) in the finale.
Who to watch: Leadoff man Everth Cabrera broke a nine-game hitting streak on Friday. So he went out and collected four more hits the rest of the weekend, boosting his average to .329 – good for 20th in the league.
Chris Denorfia has pushed his average above .300 for the year (.306) despite being limited to pinch-hitting duties over the weekend.
Struggling sluggers Chase Headley and Jedd Gyorko are starting to show some life at the plate. Headley has hits in his last three games and is up to .190 on the season. Gyorko (.145) is mired in a season-long slump, but leads the team with eight RBIs.
For the Brewers, Aramis Ramirez is putting behind an injury-plagued 2013 and is on a tear, hitting a whopping .352 and leading the team in RBIs (15). Ryan Braun is always the focal point of the team and is red hot right now. The controversial slugger had six hits over the weekend – three for homers – and has hits in nine of his last 10 games. The Padres will have to keep him down in order to tame the Brewers.
What’s next: After Milwaukee, it’s off to D.C. for a four-game weekend set with the Nationals. Then the boys head back to the West Coast for three with the Giants. They’ll be back at Petco next Friday when the Arizona Diamondbacks come to town.
Matthew Wood covers the Padres for #OnFriar. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @mcarloswood.