Series Preview: Padres vs. Cincinnati Reds

Now that’s more like it. The Padres hit the road this week riding a three-game win streak for the first time all season after taking a weekend series from the Miami Marlins.

After a day off, the Friars head to Cincinnati to face a Reds squad with a similar profile: Solid pitching, not a lot of pop in the lineup and an inability to get above the .500 mark.

With slugger Carlos Quentin joining the team for the first time this season, is there a possibility of some sustai

Tuesday, 4:10 p.m.: Andrew Cashner (2-5, 2.86) vs. Mike Leake (2-3, 3.40)
Cashner has been pitching like a staff ace, even if the record doesn’t show it. He tries to snap a four-game losing streak. Leake has gone at least seven innings in four straight starts, yet hasn’t won any of them.

Wednesday, 4:10 p.m.: Ian Kennedy (2-4, 3.12) vs. Johnny Cueto (3-2, 1.43)
Kennedy has given up just one run in three of his last four starts. Cueto has thrown a quality start in all eight of his outings this year. He hasn’t lost since April 11.

Thursday, 9:35 a.m.: Tyson Ross (4-3, 3.02) vs. Alfredo Simon (4-2, 2.89)
Ross is the only Padres starter with a winning record and has allowed just two runs in his last two starts. Simon failed to make it six innings for the first time all season in his last start.

What’s at stake: Is that the .500 mark we see looming in the distance? A sweep here would pull the Padres (18-21) even for the first time since they were 9-9. Of course, the Reds (17-19) are thinking the same thing and are just a half game out of second place in the NL Central.

Who to watch: Congrats to Seth Smith for receiving a much-deserved National League Player of the Week honor. He had nine hits and seven RBIs in the Marlins series and now has an eight-game hit streak that has boosted his average to .330 on the year – good for fifth in the NL.

Quentin was just called up from his rehab assignment and will make his first big-league appearance this season.

Cameron Maybin is swinging a hot stick since coming off the disabled list. He has hits in seven straight games, even if he has yet to drive in a run on the season.

Chris Denorfia’s average is at an even .300 for the year as he has hits in each of his last five starts.

For the Reds, Todd Frazier has been a surprising source of power. He hit a pair of homers over the weekend and now has seven. Joey Votto also hit two long balls this weekend, pushing him to six on the season. He hasn’t done much else, though, hitting .258 and driving in just 12 runs.

That sound you just heard was Billy Hamilton stealing another base. The young speedster has 12 on the season, putting him in the top five in the league.

Cincy will be without slugger Jay Bruce, who had knee surgery earlier this month.

What’s next: After the stop in the Queen City, it’s off to Denver for a three-game weekend set with the division rival Colorado Rockies. They are a surprising 23-17 and just 2 ½ games behind the San Francisco Giants. The Padres return home on May 20 when the Minnesota Twins come to town for a pair of games, followed by a four-game weekend series with the Chicago Cubs.

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