The Padres will be riding a four-game winning streak coming into today's matchup in St. Petersburg, where they will open up interleague play with a series against the Rays. During the winning streak, Padres pitchers have been nails, allowing only two runs combined on 21 hits. Edinson Volquez will try to continue that trend and build on his own recent success. He has seen quite a turnaround since opening up his season with three straight losses and an ERA of 11.68. He has now gone 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA over his last four starts. Most recently, he kept the Diamondbacks to just one run on four hits while walking three and fanning three over 6 2/3 innings of work. As he steps on the mound today, he will go for his fourth straight win, which would be a career-high for him. He is mostly unfamiliar pitching against the Rays, with just one game of experience in his arsenal. In 2011, he led the Reds to a victory at Tropicana Field by allowing three runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Volquez will be facing a red-hot Tampa Bay offense that has racked up 72 runs in their last 11 games. In that span, they've hit 15 home runs while batting a collective .301. Kelly Johnson, who is hitting .400 during the 11-game stretch, is a career 4-for-12 with a double and 2 RBI against Volquez. Evan Longoria is 1-for-3 with a double and 2 RBI against Volquez and has been one of the biggest keys in the Rays' offensive front. He's batting .431 with seven doubles, a triple, and three home runs while walking six times and collecting 12 RBI over his last 12 games. James Loney, who is no stranger to Padres pitching as he spent six years with the Dodgers before being traded in 2012, is hitting .449 with six doubles and 8 RBI over his last 13 games. However, he is just a career 1-for-9 against Volquez.
Padres batters have been hot lately as well. Chase Headley is riding a 13-game hitting streak, over which he's hit .400 with seven doubles, two home runs, six runs scored, and 7 RBI. As a team, they've averaged about 4.5 runs per game over a stretch of 14 games in which they've gone 11-3. Since starting the season at 2-10, they've worked their way back and now find themselves just 2 games under .500 and 3.5 games out of first place in the NL West.
Tonight they'll be facing a new opponent in Alex Cobb, who will make his first career start against San Diego. Cobb has gone 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA on the season and has won all three of his starts at home. His last outing at Tropicana Field was probably his best start of the season. He tossed 8 1/3 scoreless innings while limiting the Yankees to just three hits.