Tonight the Padres travel up the 5 to take on the Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series at Chavez Ravine as Major League Baseball pays tribute to Jackie Robinson. Eric Stults will toe the rubber for San Diego and try to redeem himself after his last start against L.A. He allowed four runs to the Dodgers in five innings at Petco Park. This will be just his third career appearance against them and he is still looking for his first win.
Kyle Blanks, who was called up while relief pitcher Thad Weber was sent down to Triple-A Tucson will make the start in left and hit in the cleanup spot tonight. Hopefully he'll be able to live up to his numbers in Spring Training and his bat will help the team get some runs on the board. Unfortunately we won't have Nick Hundley, who raked against the Dodgers in the last series (7-for-11 with two doubles, a homer, and three runs scored), in the starting lineup tonight. John Baker will make the start at catcher in the opening game. He is 3-for-11 on the season and only had one at-bat against the Dodgers last week.
Chad Billingsley will once again pitch opposite Stults, and has made it clear he won't try to change his approach tonight after last week's brawl in San Diego. Billingsley has always seemed to have the Padres' numbers, as his lifetime 13-8 record and 2.58 ERA against them shows. And with the Padres on a five-game losing streak coming into tonight, he'll be more confident than ever taking the mound. Dodgers pitching has been rolling this season, posting a combined 2.17 ERA and keeping hitters to a .216 average thus far. However, the Dodgers bullpen wasn't too great in the series at Petco Park. The Padres were very close to taking, or even sweeping the series, with a couple of late-inning comebacks against Los Angeles relief pitching.
The Dodgers have Matt Kemp hitting in the three-spot tonight. Kemp hasn't put up great numbers thus far this season. He has racked up 14 strikeouts in 12 games played and is hitting .174 this season with an even lower average (.100) at home. He did fare better last week against Padres pitching, going 4-for-13 (.308) with a double at Petco Park. But in L.A.'s loss to Arizona last night, Kemp went 0-for-4 while striking out three times. Adrian Gonzalez (batting cleanup tonight), on the other hand, is coming off back-to-back three-hit games. He's hitting .409 on the season with a couple of homers and 10 RBI.