The Padres return to San Diego on Thursday to open a seven-game homestand that could weigh heavily on the National League wild-card race.
Unfortunately for the Padres, they will be playing the role of the spoiler against the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies. The Padres have played their way out of the wild-card race, and they need a miracle finish just to get back to .500.
On Wednesday, San Diego finished a 1-5 road trip with a second straight one-run, walk-off loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis. On Aug. 5, the Padres defeated the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 to pull to within a game of .500. They have gone 7-16 since.
San Diego’s road back to the break-even mark appears highly unlikely considering the Padres‘ longest winning streak of the season is three games.
The Giants, meanwhile, are the thick of the wild-card race. Even after a 4-1 loss to the visiting Reds on Wednesday, San Francisco is a half-game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks and a full game up on Cincinnati for the final NL wild-card berth. Miami is three games behind the Giants.
“Every game is important now,” San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said Tuesday night as San Francisco celebrated Alex Cobb’s near no-hitter. “This was a big win, just like the next one we get.”
The emotions for Padres manager Bob Melvin are quite the opposite. San Diego high school product Tommy Edman produced walk-off hits for the Cardinals on Tuesday and Wednesday, both off Padres closer Josh Hader. In the latest setback, Hader served up a game-ending, two-run homer in a save situation.
“They’re all gut punches. They are sting the same,” Melvin said. “The road is tougher and tougher every day. You expect to win some of these games.”
The teams’ four-game series opens Thursday night with a pair of right-handers making rare starts. Jakob Junis (4-3, 4.09 ERA in 35 appearances and three starts) will open for the Giants against the Padres‘ Pedro Avila (0-1, 2.63 ERA in eight appearances, two starts).
Avila is making his second straight start. He gave up five runs on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings at Milwaukee on Saturday to take the loss. One of Avila’s three previous major league starts came in his lone outing against the Giants. He gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk in four innings during a loss on Oct. 1, 2021.
Junis has appeared in relief twice since making back-to-back starts on Aug. 15 and 20. He has made three relief appearances against the Padres this season, including one in Mexico City. In those outings, he gave up 11 runs on 16 hits and a walk with nine strikeouts in eight innings for a 12.38 ERA. Five of the hits were home runs, four of those occurring in Mexico City.
Junis if 1-0 lifetime against the Padres with a 9.26 ERA and a 1.714 WHIP in six games (three starts).
—Field Level Media
Field Level Media