Complete coverage of the 2014 season

Padres Try to Hit Magic Number Against Pirates

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It’s a case of simple math for the Padres this season: Score four runs and you’ve got a really good chance of winning games, as the team is now 20-4 when hitting that mark.

    That was evident over the weekend, where the Friars went on the road to take two of three from the red-hot Chicago White Sox by scoring – wait for it – exactly four runs in each of their wins.
    So the question remains, why don’t they do that more often?

    Put aside a loss to Chris Sale in the finale – nobody was hitting that guy on Sunday – and you’ve still got the recipe for winning. It was just the second series win on the road for the Padres and something to build on as they head home for a week.

    Enter the Pittsburgh Pirates, a similar team (fourth place in their division) with a similar record (26-30, just one loss better than the Padres). They don’t like the road either, as evidenced by their 10-17 record away from PNC Park.

    The Padres have had great success against the Bucs, winning 19 of their last 25 meetings overall and eight of 12 at Petco Park. The Pirates are also coming off winning three of four against the Dodgers, which is worth toasting with any Pittsburgh-ites (Pittsburgh-ians?) you might come across at Bub’s this week.

    After all, we’re all friends as long as the Dodgers are losing, right? Here’s a preview of the upcoming series.

    What’s at stake: Well, another team that’s been floundering around the .500 mark, unable to get over that elusive hump. The Pirates are trying to return to the playoffs after a great run last year that saw them reach the postseason for the first time in more than 20 years.

    They play 13 of their next 16 games against National League Central foes, so they will be looking to load up on wins before things get real in the division.

    For the Padres, this starts a stretch of 16 straight games against teams at or below .500 before the Dodgers come to town in three weeks. What the Friars do in these upcoming weeks will determine whether we’re talking about a team that can contend or not down the stretch.

    Matchups:
    Monday, 7:10 p.m.:
    Tim Stauffer (R, 2-1, 4.50) vs. Charlie Morton (R, 1-7, 3.29)
    Stauffer followed up a win in his first start of the season with an absolute stinker (seven runs allowed while recording just one out) his last time out. He absolutely has to get some innings in to save the bullpen. Poor Morton can’t catch a break – he has given up less than four runs in six of seven starts, yet has taken a loss in five of those.

    Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.: Padres starter TBA vs. Gerrit Cole (R, 5-3, 3.80)
    The Padres will most likely call someone up to take the start. Potential candidates: Jesse Hahn, Odrisamar Despaigne or Keyvius Sampson. Cole, a Newport Beach native, has three straight quality starts.

    Wednesday, 3:40 p.m.: Ian Kennedy (R, 4-6, 3.42) vs. Francisco Liriano (L, 1-5, 4.62)
    Kennedy is throwing his best all season, with 15 strikeouts and just two earned runs in his last two starts. Liriano has failed to get out of the sixth inning in his last three outings.

    Who to watch:
    Padres:
    Chase Headley went deep on Sunday to tie him for the most home runs in history by a player born in Colorado (85). He also pushed his average back up above .200 on the season.

    Carlos Quentin got three starts at DH in the Interleague games over the weekend and may be ready for full-time duty in the outfield. Despite just two hits on the weekend, he is still hitting .348 over his last 10 games.

    Cameron Maybin was out of the lineup Sunday with a calf injury and Tommy Medica left on Sunday with a quad strain. Both are day-to-day.

    Pirates: Reigning league MVP Andrew McCutchen is having another solid season, leading the NL in walks (42) and third in on-base percentage (.427). The center fielder has also stolen seven bases without getting caught.

    Second baseman Neil Walker and third baseman Pedro Alvarez each have 10 homers on the season, but Walker had just one hit over the weekend and Alvarez is batting just .223 on the season.

    Why go: Taco Tuesday is also a First Responder Salute. Wednesday’s getaway day afternoon start is a perfect time to take the afternoon off and catch a game, but your boss didn’t hear that here.

    Coming up: The Washington Nationals come to town for what’s sure to be a festive atmosphere this weekend. Friday is the team’s second Beerfest of the season. Kegs are tapped in Park in the Park at 5 p.m. Fans get Padres beach towels on Saturday.

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