Here's hoping Chase Headley keeps mashing the ball like he has been. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
As much as the offense continued to role in Denver (no surprise), the series was a disappointment. San Diego went into Denver riding high. They had just taken two out of three from Atlanta, they were winners of nine out of ten, and they were an exciting team to watch. They are still exciting, and were exciting in the Rockies series, but after the series opening victory, San Diego dropped two straight.
The finale was a classic Colorado slug-fest. The Padres came out on the losing end 11-10, but Chase Headley had a day for the ages. He had four hits, one of which was a home run, and he drove in six. Headley's home run gave him 23 on the year to increase his career-high. Alexi Amarista also had a career day. He went 5 for 5 with a double and two runs batted in. The cast-off from the Angels in the Ernesto Frieri deal has proven to be a huge pick-up for San Diego. He is a catalyst for San Diego's offense, and he plays harder than just about anyone on the field.
San Diego has a new ownership group, they have new plans for the future, they may even be keeping Chase Headley. This part of the season - the final month - is an audition for great things to come. Those of us who have stood by this team, watching the bad years play out before us like a sick joke, will be rewarded. I've always said the victories are so much sweeter for fans like us. For those not accustomed to winning, for those who are willing to endure the pain of losing seasons while standing by their team forever, the feeling of victory is indescribable. But we've felt it. We felt it especially in 1984 and 1998.
Before we can look forward to next season, we've got to finish this season strong. That strong finish continues with the Dodgers' series. The hated Los Angeles Dodgers play host to our Swingin' Friars for three games. With the addition of Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers' roster, the series is even more intriguing.
Game One - 5:10 PM PT
Werner was the only one to receive a loss in the Braves series, but he didn't deserve it. In his last outing against Atlanta, Werner went six innings, allowed four hits, and gave up two runs. It was almost an identical line to his Major League debut (6 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 4 walks). He gave up fewer walks in the Braves game, but unlike the Pirates game (his debut), Werner took the tough-luck loss. The kid is good, and he's sporting a 3.00 ERA on the dot so far this season. Opponents are hitting .190 against him, and he's quietly making a case for himself come spring of next season. Werner's road to success is the type that makes you root extra hard for him. He's an underdog in every sense of the word. And with him facing Los Angeles, he has a shot to be a hero. To be immortalized in Padres' lore. A shutdown performance against the disgusting boys in blue from the north would be the type of audition one could only dream of.
Blanton is not as good as most make him out to be. He has the second-highest K/BB ratio in the Majors, but he also sports a 4.95 ERA this season - 6.67 with Los Angeles. Blanton has given up 20 hits in his last two starts, a combined 13 innings. He's also given up seven runs in those last two starts. The last time Blanton allowed less than four runs in a start was on August 5th against the Chicago Cubs. So basically he's still a terrible Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, only worse. He's now a terrible Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher. While most seem to think the trade for Blanton was a good one for Los Angeles, his ERA begs to differ. Want more than ERA? His FIP begs to differ, his K/BB ratio with the Dodgers begs to differ, his WHIP begs to differ, and his win/loss ratio begs to differ. There's a lot of begging going on here. Against the Padres in is career, Blanton has six starts and a 4.63 ERA.
Game Two - 7:10 PM PT
Here's a fun fact: Stults actually has a lower ERA than Kershaw. To be fair though, Kershaw's FIP is much lower indicating a truer level of success. Stults has been pretty damn good though. He has a 2.45 ERA this season. His 3.88 FIP leaves something to be desired, but as long as Stults and the Padres are having success, I don;t care if he may be getting a little extra help from the defense. In his last two starts combined, Stults has allowed one run over 13 innings. He has walked just three in that time while striking out nine. Although Stults pitched for the Dodgers for four seasons, he has never actually faced them. His ERA at Dodger Stadium is 4.09 in 72 2/3 innings pitched. However, Stults has given up more than two runs just three times all season long - a total of 15 appearances and 69 2/3 innings. He's been on fire.
Kershaw is a lot like Justin Verlander. He seems to be every bit as good as he was last year, but he's not getting nearly the same level of praise. In his 2011 Cy Young campaign, Kershaw won 21 games and has a 2.28 ERA. This season, Kershaw has 12 wins (like wins matter) and a 2.85 ERA. Basically, he's been great this season, but not quite as great as he was last year. That in and of itself may be enough to preclude him from Cy Young voting. Dare the voters vote for someone who has worse numbers than they did when they won the previous Cy Young, said voters would be strung up (probably by other close-minded voters). Ok, enough praise for Kershaw. He - well - he... I'm trying to find something negative here, but the dude is good. He has a 2.35 ERA against the Padres in his career. He also has a career 2.44 ERA at Dodger Stadium. He straight deals and the Padres will have to take advantage of any opportunity they get.
Game Three - 7:10 PM PT
How cool would it be to talk about a Clayton vs. Clayton match-up. Instead, we will settle for a teammate vs. teammate match-up. Richard will be facing off against the 2011 Padre Aaron Harang. Richard is coming off a fantastic outing against Colorado. He went eight innings, allowed seven hits, and gave up three runs. He lowered his ERA to 3.74 and picked up his team-leading 12th victory. The victory also puts Richard back to .500 on the season at 12-12. So you want some splits now, huh? Richard is 12-0 in night games against former teammates with a 2.12 ERA and 75 strikeouts. Believe me? Well you shouldn't I made that up. However, Richard really does have a 2.60 ERA in 11 starts against the Dodgers in his career. To make things better, he comes into Dodger Stadium with a still-impressive 3.24 ERA.
Harang has not been quite the same pitcher he was in San Diego. He had a 3.64 ERA last season with San Diego. With the Dodgers, he has a solid 3.76 ERA. The San Diego native is on pace to post back-to-back sub-4.00 ERA even though before 2011, he hadn't had an ERA under 4.00 since 2007. The west coast has certainly favored Harang and helped him hang around the league a while longer. In his last start, Harang went five innings and allowed three runs. He has allowed three runs in each of his last two starts without lasting through six innings. Harang has struggled in the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, he has posted a 4.22 ERA. In four starts against the Padres this season, Harang is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA.
Sweep! Beat L.A.! Is there anything else I could say here? I mean, it's the Los Angeles Dodgers. It's the big brother who cares so little about the little brother they aren't quite sure the little brother exists. It's the one-sided rivalry. All that being said, I hate Los Angeles, and I have been on board with using them are our rivals. Aside from Kershaw, the pitching shouldn't scare anyone. The Padres have a real shot of taking all three of these games and hindering the Dodgers' play-off hopes - maybe permanently.
Keep the faith!!