Padres Win Again, Inch Towards Playoff Picture

Friars get closer to .500 mark, face stretch of winnable games

The Padres beat the Marlins 5-3 on Saturday night in Miami. They followed a tried and true baseball formula: get a good start, have a big inning on offense, let the bullpen lock it up.

Odrisamer Despaigne had another solid outing, going 6.0 innings and allowing three runs to get the win. Shawn Kelley, Marc Rzepczynski, Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel made it stick, not allowing a baserunner in their combined three innings of work. Kimbrel earned his 31st save and still has yet to blow back-to-back saves in his Major League career.

On offense, the Padres big damage came in the third inning. Will Venable scored on a triple by Yangervis Solarte, who scored on a Matt Kemp sacrifice fly (Kemp also had two hits). Derek Norris capped the 4-run inning with a double just inside the 3rd base bag that brought home Justin Upton and Yonder Alonso, who took the extra base when Miami left fielder Derek Dietrich misplayed the ball along the left field wall.

The Padres have won three straight series on the road. That’s not bad for a team who only won three of its first 15 road series this season.

San Diego has won 12 of 16 games, running its record to 51-53. Conventional wisdom would suggest if they can get back to the .500 mark they can start to legitimately think about making a playoff run. That might happen by Monday, and if they make it happen, there’s no reason to think they can’t get in to the post-season because, finally, the schedule is being kind to the Friars.

San Diego’s next 17 games are against teams with losing records. Now, if they do get back in to against a bunch of teams that are not very good, there will be detractors out there who say they proved nothing by busting up the bottom-feeders. However, here’s a dirty little secret: every winning team does that. It’s how they become winning teams.

Submitted for your approval; the following schedule analysis. Let’s start with the Cubs. Chicago is 55-47, currently a game out of the final NL Wild Card spot. The Cubbies are 9-4 against the Reds (46-55) but 4-9 against the Cardinals (66-37). How about the Pirates (60-42), owners of the first NL Wild Card? Pittsburgh is 5-2 against the Phillies (40-64) but 4-6 against the Cubs.

The 56-46 Giants, owners of the final NL Wild Card spot, are the outlier. They’re 2-5 against the Marlins (42-61), and for some reason 9-3 against the first place Dodgers (59-45).

Speaking of L.A., they’re the poster kids for feasting on the weak. The Dodgers are 9-4 against the Rockies (43-58) and 9-3 against the Diamondbacks (50-51 after a 6-game winning streak). The only teams with winning records the Dodgers have a winning record against are the Angels (55-48), who they’ve beaten both times they’ve played so far, and the Nationals (54-47), who they took two of three games from.

Things are about to get very difficult for the NL West leaders. In August they still have series against the Pirates (60-42), Nationals, Astros (58-46), Cubs and Giants, with Pittsburgh and Houston coming on the road.

So if the Padres can do what all the other “winning” teams do over the next three weeks, they’ll be right in the thick of the post-season picture, and yes, they will have earned their spot in the hunt.

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