The San Diego Padres entered the bottom of the ninth inning at Oakland on Wednesday with the opportunity to finally get on the “roll” manager Jayce Tingler had been predicting.
Three more outs would give the Padres a three-game winning streak for only the second time since the start of July.
Three more outs would give them momentum heading into six straight home games against two cellar-dwelling teams — Arizona and Miami — with a combined .370 winning percentage. Three more outs to build momentum into 13 straight games against teams with decisively losing records.
The A’s tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and walked off with a win in the 10th.
Suddenly, opportunity looks like desperation for the Padres.
With 52 games to play, they are 7 1/2 games behind the division-leading Giants and 3 1/2 behind the Dodgers, who currently hold the home-field advantage come the wild-card game. But the Cincinnati Reds have crawled to within 3 1/2 games of the Padres in the race for the second wild-card berth.
Over the next two weeks, the Padres will play the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Diamondbacks again and Rockies.
The Padres are losing time to gain ground. Starting Aug. 24, they will play the Dodgers and Giants 19 times to the end of the regular season.
“We have to start winning more games,” Tingler said after Wednesday’s loss in Oakland. “Now is the time.”
Arizona certainly is vulnerable. The Diamondbacks are winning less than 31 percent of their games and just lost five of seven games at home to the Giants and Dodgers.
What has become a crucial series for the Padres will open Friday night in San Diego with left-hander Ryan Weathers (4-3, 3.65 ERA) starting against Arizona left-hander Caleb Smith (3-8, 5.04).
Weathers, a 21-year-old rookie, is coming off his worst start. He gave up eight runs on eight hits, including three home runs, and three walks in four innings against Colorado at home on July 30 — sending his ERA from 2.73 to 3.65.
Weathers has made two appearances against the Diamondbacks. Both were in April and lasted a total of four innings. In the season’s third game, the picked up a three-inning save, allowing one hit with three strikeouts. He started against Arizona on April 28, but the outing lasted only an inning when his velocity nose-dived with what was described as “dead arm.”
The Padres have worked hard to protect Weathers, who will make his 14th start of the season Friday night. He has yet to complete six innings.
Smith is 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA in six games (five starts) lifetime against the Padres, including 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA this season.
–Field Level Media