A four-game series at Miami in late July offered a perfect example of how things have gone for the San Diego Padres since the All-Star break.
The Padres beat the Marlins the first two games, then lost the next two.
High hopes early in the series that the Padres could grab a little momentum at the expense of the last-place team in the National League East dissolved into the win/lose morass that has plagued the Padres since the beginning of July.
Another opportunity is knocking the next three days as the Marlins visit San Diego. The big question: Can the Padres take advantage of it?
Some positive signs did appear over the weekend.
For the first time this season, Padres starters went seven innings in back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday, leading to consecutive wins against the Arizona Diamondbacks. And for the first time in Padres’ history, starting pitchers had back-to-back games with at least 12 strikeouts. Yu Darvish fanned 12 in seven innings Saturday before Blake Snell whiffed 13 in seven innings Sunday.
Now it’s up to San Diego right-hander Joe Musgrove (7-7, 2.87 ERA) to keep the streak going Monday night. He will be matched up with Marlins right-hander Zach Thompson (2-4, 2.53 ERA).
Actually, this is a rematch. Musgrove and Thompson were paired July 23 in Miami in a game the Padres won 5-2. Musgrove allowed two runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in six innings to earn the win. Thompson gave up three runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts in five innings while taking the loss.
Padres manager Jayce Tingler made it clear that his club needs another strong and long outing from Musgrove on Monday.
“We don’t know what we’re doing for a starting pitcher Tuesday night,” Tingler said. That is right-hander Chris Paddack’s spot on the big-picture schedule, but Paddack is not ready to return from the injured list as he is still nursing an oblique strain.
Tuesday night could become a bullpen game, and the Wednesday afternoon start will fall to Ryan Weathers. The rookie left-hander has given up 14 runs on 15 hits and four walks with just three strikeouts over a total of seven innings in his past two starts.
Add it up, and the pressure on Musgrove to go deeper into Monday’s game is amplified.
Over his last three starts, beginning with the outing at Miami, Musgrove has given up three runs on 11 hits and five walks with 20 strikeouts in 19 innings for a 1.42 ERA and a 0.842 WHIP. He is 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two career starts against the Marlins.
Thompson, a 6-foot-7, 27-year-old rookie, will be making the 10th start of his major league career Monday, his second against the Padres. He has a 1.102 WHIP and a .196 opponents’ batting average. In his past three starts — beginning with his appearance against the Padres — Thompson is 0-2 with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.295 WHIP.
“He’s faced three good offensive teams in his last three starts in the Padres, Mets and Yankees,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Given the opposition, I overall like what we’ve seen.”
–Field Level Media