The Friars look to start the month of May strong, following a mediocre April that sees the Padres sitting fourth in the NL at 13-16, yet only 4.5 games out of first place. The three game home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks should give them a good opportunity to pick up a few victories, and look to turn things around.
The Diamondbacks (9-22) struggled mightily during the opening month of the season, as manager Kirk Gibson has faced difficulties finding someone to take the mound with confidence and record some outs. The overall play by the D-backs has been anything but impressive so far this season, and if the team does not turn it around quickly, fans in the Valley of the Sun might blow a gasket and start a revolt against Gibson. It is no surprise why they find themselves struggling and currently last in the NL West, and currently at the bottom of the pit in MLB winning percentage (.290). It has been tough for them to win games when their collective ERA on the season rounds out the bottom of the MLB rankings at 5.30. They have also allowed opposing teams to hit .271 against them, and have given up 36 homers, which has plagued them early on. If the Padres are looking for a good time to fire up the bats and find some momentum at the start of a new month, this weekend is a good time to take advantage.
It has been no surprise that the Padres have struggled at the bat, so it will be important to get out early and gets some base runners against the struggling Arizona pitching staff. One stat that stands out is shortstop and leadoff hitter, Everth Cabrera. Cabrera, who is batting a respectable .284 and racked up an impressive 33 hits on the month must improve his on-base percentage (.308), and start putting the ball in play more often. His number of strikeouts needs to be reduced, as he fanned 29 times during the month of April. If he can limit his strikeouts and improve his on-base percentage, Chris Denorfia, who has been hitting the ball well (.314) in the number two slot could give the Friars a chance at starting a big inning.
Going into the series, it is a clear battle of struggling pitching versus struggling hitting, but something has to give. Although just the beginning of May, this is a big series for both teams as they fight to stay off the bottom line in the division. The Friars have to feel good about their chances going into the series opener on Friday night, as they hand the ball over to Andrew Cashner. Cashner has posted an impressive 2.68 ERA in the first month of the season, striking out 36 and walking 11. If he can continue to throw the ball well against the D-backs and the Padres can put the ball in play and get some runs, they should be able to find success. Things only look to improve in the second game of the series as Ian Kennedy, who had a very solid opening month is scheduled to start.
It is an early season battle to stay out of last place, but more importantly it is a big weekend as both teams look to pick up momentum moving forward. It should be a beautiful, sunny weekend in San Diego as the Padres face off against the Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Game 1 of the series is tonight, with the opening pitch scheduled for 7:10pm PST.
Commentary by Johnny Caito