Now that the Arizona Diamondbacks have won their first road game since April 25, can they also win their first series since May 2?
That is the question to be answered Sunday as the Diamondbacks seek a second straight road win against the San Diego Padres.
Arizona snapped a major league-record run of 24 straight road losses Saturday night with a 10-1 romp over the Padres.
“Tonight feels good,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “But it’s one game. It’s been a tough run.”
And suddenly, the pressure shifts to the Padres. Both their starters the past two nights lasted just 2 1/3 innings, meaning the bullpen handled the bulk of the work.
“With an off day before this series and another one Monday, we should be OK,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said when asked about the state of his bullpen after Saturday’s loss that snapped an eight-game winning streak.
The best thing the Padres’ bullpen has going for it Sunday is Yu Darvish (7-2, 2.50 ERA), who will face fellow right-hander Zac Gallen (1-3, 3.67).
Darvish is the ace of the Padres staff. He has worked at least five innings in each of his past seven starts and has completed seven innings in six of his 15 outings. The Padres are 12-3 in Darvish’s starts.
In his most recent outing, Darvish held the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run on two hits in six innings. He fanned 11 to become the fastest pitcher in major league history to record 1,500 strikeouts.
“I am impressed every time Darvish goes out there,” Tingler said recently. “He has a great arsenal of pitches. When something isn’t working, he goes to something else that is. He knows how to navigate a lineup and a game.”
On Sunday, that could mean getting some earlier outs and using his normal run of approximately 100 pitches to go seven, maybe eight innings. The Padres have enough bullpen arms to cover the last couple of innings, but not the middle of the game.
One of Darvish’s strengths is his ability to pitch to the situation. Three of his previous seven-inning outings came in the same situation the Padres face Sunday: a bullpen running on fumes.
“There’s a reason why Darvish is an ace,” Tingler said.
Darvish has limited the opposition to a .189 batting average this season while striking out 108 hitters in 90 innings.
Arguably Darvish’s worst start of the season came way back on April 1 against the Diamondbacks at Petco Park. He gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk with six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
Darvish owns a 3-1 record with a 3.57 ERA in six career starts against Arizona.
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Gallen will be making his third start since returning from an extended stay on the injured list. Gallen held the Milwaukee Brewers to one run on three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in five innings on Tuesday.
Gallen has limited the opposition to a .195 batting average this season. He has 43 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings.
Gallen is 1-0 with an 0.82 ERA in two career starts versus San Diego.
–Field Level Media