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It's never fun being the reason another team clinches the division. Unfortunately, that's what the Padres had to suffer through on Saturday night. San Francisco may very well have clinched even if the Padres had not lost on Saturday, but the loss and the Giants' division title were hard to handle. San Diego lost the first two games of the series, but they managed to salvage the final game on Sunday. They also saw the return of Huston Street who picked up his 22nd save of the year.
The Padres now welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers to Petco. Los Angeles trails the Cardinals by 3.5 games in the Wild Card and is quickly running out of time. San Diego has a shot to finally knock the Dodgers out of play-off contention depending on how St. Louis performs in their series against the Houston Astros. At this point in the season, that's really what we're playing for. Momentum and dream killing. That's the Padres motto.
Game One - 7:05 PM PT
Josh Beckett will make his first start against the Padres since being traded to Los Angeles. The 32-year old righty has a 4.88 ERA this season. While he has not started against San Diego this season, Beckett has made six starts against the Friars in his career. In those starts, he has a slim 2.16 ERA. When Beckett isn't drinking beer and eating chicken, it seems he likes to mow down Padres batters. Of course, these numbers come from his time with the Florida Marlins. A lot has changed since then - like the fact that Beckett is not a good pitcher anymore.
Volquez struggled in his last start. He allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings of work against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Volquez is sitting on a 4.30 ERA this season, leaving much to be desired. However, he has shown how great he can be at times. He's tossed a complete game, one-hiter this season. He's tossed a couple three hitters. Yet, Volquez's command remains an issue. One saving grace for Volquez is that he no longer leads all of baseball in walks. Ricky Romero has overtaken that dubious honor with 103 compared with Volquez's 100. However, Volquez will surely regain his lead after his start today.
Game Two - 3:35 PM PT
Harang somehow continues to put up decent numbers. He has a 3.80 ERA this season. The former-Padre has seemed to benefit from his time in Los Angeles much like he did in San Diego. Dodger Stadium is a pitcher's park, and it shows in Harang's numbers. The big righty has a 4.21 career ERA but has managed a sub-4.00 ERA in each of his last two season. Against his former club, Harang has posted a 3.64 ERA this season. In his career, Harang has a 3.97 ERA against San Diego. The good new for San Diego is Harang has not managed to go more than 5 2/3 innings since August 18th.
Richard was the winning pitcher in the only win San Diego had in the Diamondbacks series, but it wasn't pretty. After five straight starts without allowing more than three runs, Richard gave up four runs in six innings against the DBacks. He came away with the win to run his record to 14-12. And in all, Richard has really had a nice season. He has a 3.81 ERA and has a shot at 16 wins if he wins his next two starts. That many wins and an ERA below 4.00 for a lefty is nothing to complain about, and Richard's future looks bright for San Diego. He has been solid against the Dodgers this season, posting a 3.09 ERA in 32 innings-pitched. The Padres need a strong start, and Richard is the perfect pitcher to deliver. He's put together some of the better starts this season for San Diego.
Game Three - 7:05 PM PT
Capuano is having a resurgence similar to Aaron Harang. Capuano has posted a 3.74 ERA this season after struggling last year. Capuano has a 4.28 ERA in his career. He spent the majority of his time in Milwaukee where he went 44-48. With the Dodgers this season, Capuano is dead even at 11-11. He has made two starts against the Padres this season and has a 3.57 ERA against San Diego. Capuano is coming off a loss to the Washington Nationals on September 20th in which he gave up four runs (three earned) in five innings of work.
Kelly's struggled continued against the Giants in his last start. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowed four walks and seven hits, and gave up two runs. He had a short leash in the start as he was racking up a high pitch count. He threw 92 pitches in the start despite not making it out of the fifth inning. Kelly still has just five Major League starts under his belt and is still learning how to get big leaguers out. He will be making his first career starts against the Dodgers, but it will be fourth start at home. At Petco, Kelly has a 5.02 ERA in 14 2/3 innings-pitched. Opponents are hitting .327 off him this season, so Kelly will need to be more deceptive with his pitches. He has good strikeout stuff, but he continues to leave too many pitches over the heart of the plate. If his command issues in his last start were an anomaly, Kelly should be fine, but if not it will be just another thing he will need to work on this offseason.
San Diego has struggled in their last two series. They return home with a chance to push their home record to further above .500. After such a slow start at home this season, it's impressive to see San Diego at 40-35 coming into this series. The Padres actually have the best home record in the National League West right now. Because they're at home and because I like to rile up the Dodgers trolls, I'm predicting the sweep. The Padres will take all three and officially knock Los Angeles out of the play-off hunt.
Keep the faith!!