Milwaukee is on the verge of a ten-game winning streak. Meanwhile, San Diego is only halfway to ten wins through the entire season. After starting pitcher Clayton Richard was roughed up early last night, the Padres hope Edinson Volquez will fare better tonight against the streaking Brewers and can help the team avoid back-to-back sweeps.
It's been a rough start to the 2013 season for Volquez. He's 0-3 with an 8.84 ERA through his first four starts. His most recent, however, was his most successful. Volquez allowed just two runs to the Giants over six innings of work to earn his first quality start of 2013. He has a career 3-3 record and 5.64 ERA over the Brewers, but is 0-2 in his last four starts against them. Tonight he faces a formidable offense seeking its first sweep over the Padres since 2003.
Rickie Weeks has walked twice but is 0-for-7 in the first two games of this series. Against Volquez, however, he is hitting .429 with two homers. Ryan Braun has been on fire lately, notching four home runs over the past six days and collecting 14 RBI during the Brewers winning streak. He's a career .360 hitter with one home run in 25 at-bats against Volquez. Jean Segura has never faced Volquez, but is having a phenomenal start to his rookie season. Last night he tied a career high with three hits to improve to .377 on the year. He also stole his fifth base in as many games.
The Padres offense, on the other hand, has been in a slump since leaving Los Angeles. In the five games (all losses) since sweeping the Dodgers, opponents have outscored them 23-6. Half of those six runs, however, came last night in what was coincidentally the team's first game with both Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin in the lineup, so hopefully that was a sign of better things to come for this offense. Although Headley has gone just 4-for-21 in his six appearances this season, he has been quite successful career-wise against Milwaukee pitching. He's reached base safely in each of his last 21 games against the Brewers, over which he is hitting .316 with three doubles and two homers. In a similar streak against the Brewers, Everth Cabrera has reached base safely in 15 straight games. Also, Chris Denorfia is batting a career .365 with four doubles and two homers in 19 games against Milwaukee pitching.
Tonight's opponent will be Marco Estrada, who is 2-0 in his first four starts this season. Despite an undefeated record in 2013, Estrada has been a victim of the long ball, serving up six home runs over 24 innings. He has only faced the Padres in relief situations prior to tonight, going 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA over 3 1/3 innings.
The Padres best chance of winning tonight might be to get on the board early against Estrada before having to face Milwaukee's relief corps. The Brewers bullpen has collected five saves in their last 11 games, keeping batters to a .165 average and boasting a 1.05 ERA over that span.
But San Diego's bullpen has been fantastic lately as well. Over the past eight games, they have combined for an ERA of 0.98. Last night they held the Brewers scoreless on five hits and two walks through 7 1/3 innings in relief of Richard, striking out six batters in the process.