The San Diego Padres (21-24) return to Petco Park tonight to face off against the Minnesota Twins (21-21). Following last week’s road trip that sent the Friars off to Cincinnati and then Colorado, the Padres have to feel good about going .500 on the road swing and finally finding a bit of momentum. Chew them up and spit them out must be the goal of the Padres in this short series set.
A bit of momentum can go a long way, but the Friars still need for more guys to step up as they move into and then past this quick, two-game series against the Twins. If the Padres can pull out two wins in the next two days, their next seven games are against a couple of struggling teams in the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs. Two very winnable series, but first the Friars must take care of business against the .500 Twins.
The Twins roll into San Diego as winners in five of their last seven games and right at the .500 mark on the season. A team that has been somewhat up and down all year is finding a bit of rhythm as their pitching staff is strapping up and buckling down in the last week of games. For the majority of the still young season, pitching has been the Achilles heel for the Twins, but has found slight footing on the mound, holding opponents to three or fewer runs in four of the last nine games. However, their team combined ERA sits near the bottom of MLB at 4.65, while they give up a higher batting average than any other staff in baseball (.275).
The Twins will send San Diego born Kevin Correia (1-5) to the mound in Game 1 of the short, two-game interleague series. Correia has struggled mightily in his 42.1 innings pitched, posting a 6.80 ERA, while allowing opposing batters to hit .328 against him. He should be a sight for sore eyes for the Padres, as they continue to battle at the plate and still look to turn the hitting troubles around. The bats have been up and down for the Friars as Seth Smith and Chris Denorfia are carrying the majority of the offensive load. If there was ever a time for some of the struggling Padres to find their confidence at the bat, they could not ask for a better time than against Twins pitching.
Ian Kennedy (2-5) will get the ball for the Padres in the first game, and is hoping for the Padres to offer some run support. In Kennedy’s five losses, the Friars have only managed nine runs, while Kennedy has held opposing teams to a .250 BA while fanning 60 players in 55 innings of work. His record is no indication of how he has thrown the ball so far this season and eventually, if not given run support, frustrations can sink deep into the mind of a pitcher. It’s extremely important for the Padres bats to come alive against a pitcher who has been struggling and put some runs on the board to give Kennedy a shot at earning his third win of the season.
Commentary by Johnny Caito