San Diego bounces back with Black
Nothing is worse than seeing your talented team sorely underachieving and plummeting into the cellar. Except maybe, the salt in that wound is seeing a division rival with much less talent overachieving to the point of being three games out of the playoff picture.
The Padres, whose roster is half made up of non-roster invitees and bargain free agents, currently sit 5.5 games ahead of the Rockies and are white hot. In fact, if San Diego beats us tonight and tomorrow, they will match Colorado's storied 13-of-14 run to close out 2007.
But it hasn't been all cheery this season for the bipolar Padres. After getting swept by the Cubs May 14, San Diego had lost 13 of their past 15 and were a full game behind Colorado. So Bud Black called a meeting, "let some things off his chest" and addressed the team's lack of execution with fundamentals. Is it a coincidence that San Diego's course immediately switched after that meeting? Maybe a good manager means something after all...
Naturally, San Diego didn't suddenly turn into an exceptional offensive team and start blowing teams out. Of their 11 wins, four are by one run, four are by two runs, and one each of three, four and five. They've been winning the close ones...In fact, their only loss came by one run Saturday in a game they loaded the bases in the ninth with no outs. Chris Young crashed into the wall for a game-saving catch to avoid the completion of the Friars' comeback.
San Diego Padres (24-23, W1, 2nd, 9 GB)
Friday-Sunday: 3-game series at Coors Field
I'm going to go ahead and beat this dead horse more. San Diego is outperforming their run differential by four game and they have a worse Pythag. WP than the Rockies. It's nice to have Heath Bell and clutch performances.
Adrian Gonzalez leads MLB in HR with 18, despite playing in arguably the best pitcher's park in the league. His bat is a huge presence in the lineup (he was out with the flu their only loss since May 15), especially on the road, where he boasts a 1.118 OPS.
Also, if you missed it, San Diego acquired Rocktober hero Tony Gwynn Jr in exchange for Jody Gerut.
Tonight, 7:10 MDT
|2009 - Josh Geer||1-1||4.91||1.21||21||7|
|2009 - Jason Marquis||6-3||4.45||1.29||27||19|
Tuesday, May 30, 6:10 MDT
|2009 - Chris Young||4-2||4.76||1.38||44||25|
|2009 - Jason Hammel||1-3||4.10||1.69||24||12|
Wednesday, May 31, 1:10 MDT
|2009 - Chad Gaudin||1-3||5.40||1.59||27||26|
|2009 - Jorge De La Rosa||0-5||5.26||1.39||52||23|
Shreds of Optimisim: For the second straight series, you could make a case the Rockies may have the pitching matchup advantage in all three games. All three starters have a better ERA, and with the strength of Marquis, the Rox pitchers have more cumulative wins. Naturally, this means nothing.
Colorado leads the season series 3-2, and the Padres are just 7-17 on the road.
No Jake Peavy for the third straight series matchup
Brian Giles (7-for-14 last 7) and Adrian Gonzalez (6-for-18, 3HR) have found their offensive gear that seemed to be stuck earlier in the season. Heath Bell gave up his first run last week (despite inducing five GB), yet leads the majors in saves with 14. He has recorded six saves in the past two weeks.
Nick Hundley (1-for-11), Kevin Kouzmanoff (4-for-21) and Chris Burke (2-for-18) are hitting more like we are accustomed to for Padre bats.