Our boys head to the desert today to kick off a three-game series against the only team standing in the way of third place. The Diamondbacks are now just 1 1/2 games ahead of our Padres in the standings and this series has the potential for playoff implications, as just six games separate us from the second NL Wild Card spot. Our Padres go into Arizona having won eight (and swept three) of the last nine series. All series wins came against playoff hopefuls, including the Dbacks, from whom we've taken five games out of six during that nine-series stretch.
Tonight our offense will face Ian Kennedy. He is 1-1 in three starts against us this season, two of which were at Chase Field. In those two starts he gave up a combined 10 earned runs on 13 hits in 12 1/3 innings. He has a career 6-1 record against San Diego after suffering his first loss to us less than a month ago during our Padres' last trip to the desert. The right-hander is coming off a fantastic start against the Dodgers, whom he kept scoreless through 7 1/3 innings a week ago. He struggled in his start prior to that, however. He surrendered five runs in 5 2/3 innings but did not factor into the decision. Arizona has won four of his last five starts, and he has gone 3-1 in that stretch.
The Diamondbacks have gone 6-7 so far this month. Most recently they dropped two of three games to the Giants before avoiding the sweep on Sunday with a 10-2 win. They are currently in the middle of a 26-game stretch against NL West opponents, and have gone 8-7 in that stretch so far. One of their hottest players right now is Justin Upton, who is hitting .333 with three home runs, seven RBI, and four runs scored over his last seven games. On Sunday he went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and a 2-run double against the Giants. He's batting .224 against Padres pitching this season, including 3-for-7 against tonight's starter.
Eric Stults is coming into this game having gone 5-0 in seven starts since August 6th. He has become one of our most reliable pitchers since entering the rotation, going 6-2 in 12 starts for San Diego this season. He's had one outing in which he lasted only five innings, but he's gone six or more frames in each of his 11 other starts. Stults is 1-1 against the Dbacks this season, and 3-1 all-time. He lost his first start against them this season, on June 3rd, when he gave up six runs (three earned) in 6 1/3 innings at Petco Park. But he got the win when he pitched at Chase Field on August 24th, limiting Arizona to just three hits and a walk while striking out four in seven shutout innings.
Our Padres continue to be red-hot coming into this series. With the best record (19-6) in the NL over the last 25 games, they have momentum on their side. They have also been incredibly dominant over the Diamondbacks this season, winning eight of the last nine against them, including six straight wins at Chase Field. Offensively, our boys are looking very strong. Yonder Alonso had a phenomenal game on Sunday, going 4-for-5 with 2 RBI, including the game-winning walk-off RBI single. Over his last six games, he's collected eight RBI while hitting .429. In 14 starts against Arizona this season, he's driven in ten runs. He had a particularly good game against Kennedy on August 25th, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a homer, and 3 RBI. Alonso has been a big part of our hot streak lately, but really we've been seeing production at every position and our lineup as a whole has been very strong. Hopefully that carries on in Arizona and tonight we can get one game closer to that Wild Card spot.