The Padres were 3-2 on April 6, 2011. That was the last time the club had a winning record. But today, in the series finale against Arizona, they will have the chance to get back above .500 for the first time since then. After winning the first two games against the NL-West-leading Diamondbacks, the Padres will go for the sweep this afternoon as Clayton Richard takes the hill opposite Ian Kennedy.
Richard, originally slated to start last night's game, was pushed back one day to get some extra rest. In six of his nine starts this year, he's allowed five or more runs and he's averaging less than five innings per start. His only win this season came in a relief outing on May 31st, when he pitched the final two innings of a 17-inning game against the Blue Jays. Though he's been struggling, his most recent start seemed to be a good sign. He pitched six solid innings, limiting damage to four earned runs on eight hits in the batter-friendly Coors Field. Richard suffered a loss to these Dbacks back on May 4th, when he was tagged for seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and four walks, lasting only 3 2/3 innings on the mound. But prior to that, he had gone 6-0 in eight career starts against Arizona.
Today Richard will take on a Dbacks club that has lost five of their last eight games and is seeing their lead atop the NL West slip slowly out from under them. They are facing their first three-game losing streak in over a month and their first sweep by the Padres at Petco Park since July 2010.
Kennedy will make his first appearance since the benches-clearing brawl against the Dodgers that resulted in his pending ten-game suspension. As he is in the process of appealing the suspension, which is the longest in the league for on-field contact since 2006, he will take the mound today to try to end the Dbacks' two-game slide. Prior to his ejection on Tuesday night, he had thrown 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits. Although he is 7-2 all-time vs.San Diego, he's gone 1-2 with a 5.54 ERA over his last four starts against them. That includes a loss just last month at Petco Park. On May 5th, he yielded five earned runs on five hits (two homers) in 5 2/3 innings of work against the Padres.
But today Kennedy will have to face a surging Padres team that has not only won five straight games, but has won five straight games against National League division leaders. Kyle Blanks has been an integral part of this recent push to .500, homering in four of his last eleven games. However, he's just 1-for-11 with four strikeouts all-time against Kennedy. Chase Headley, whose 2-RBI single put the Padres on the board last night, is 7-for-22 with a double, triple, and home run off Kennedy. Logan Forsythe, who is batting .333 with a home run, 5 RBI, and two runs scored in his first four games since joining the lineup this season, is a career 4-for-10 against Kennedy.