The San Diego Padres are coming off of a series split against the Chicago Cubs, and now look to create some space between themselves and the last place Arizona Diamondbacks (20-32). As both teams continue to struggle, the three game series becomes a must win for manager, Bud Black and the Friars. Bud Black is already finding himself on the hot seat, and a series loss to the last place team could find Black in even hotter waters.
Paul Goldschmidt, the Arizona Diamondbacks hard-hitting slugger first baseman has been one of the few bright spots for Arizona, putting up big time numbers, and acting as a one man wrecking ball. In his fourth season in the big leagues, Goldschmidt continues to slug the ball, steadily becoming the face of the franchise in the sweltering Arizona desert. His .305 batting average, 64 hits, nine home runs and 33 RBI all lead the team. However, one of his major downfalls is that he racks up strikeouts in a hurry. On the season, he has struck out more than any other player on the team, and finds himself in the top 20 in MLB with 51 whiffs on the season.
The Diamondbacks, who have struggled both offensively and defensively are looking to brighter times, and have high hopes that Hall of Fame Manager Tony La Russa will help right the ship. Fans and management are hoping that La Russa, who has recently taken over as chief of baseball operations will add a spark and make some big time changes that will get the team moving in the right direction.
As the Padres move into Arizona, and Chase Field for the three game series, the Friars must be ready for a battle. Both teams understand that this late May match-up is a great opportunity to either make up ground, or put some more space between the three and half game lead that the Padres hold over the Diamondbacks. As always, a big key for the Friars will be their approach at the bat. Diamondbacks pitching has struggled on the year, posting a 4.56 ERA, while allowing opposing teams to hit .266 against them on the year.
The Padres first test will be against Brandon McCarthy, the 30-year-old, right handed pitcher from Glendale, CA. McCarthy, who is 1-5 on the season, and is currently posting a 4.67 ERA is coming off three straight losses, but has thrown the ball quite well in his last two starts. In his last 14 innings pitched, he has given up two earned runs, struck out 10 batters, and walked just two. In his last appearance against the Friars, back on May 3, he threw seven shutout innings, before a late rally by the Padres came up short in the ninth inning, falling to the Diamondbacks 4-3.
Tyson Ross, one of the Padres most consistent pitcher’s on the season, will take the ball in the first game of the series. In his last four starts, Ross has given up just four earned runs, while striking out 29 batters. If he can keep the ball away from Goldschmidt, and not let the slugger kill him with a long ball, the Friars should like their chances in Arizona. However, no bats equals no runs, so if the Friars look to come out of the desert as the victors, the pitching stuff is going to need run support.
Commentary by Johnny Caito