The Padres were perfect in their six-game homestand, bringing them to within two games of first place in the NL West and just a half-game behind tonight's opponent, the San Francisco Giants. Edinson Volquez will try to put together another strong performance on the mound and continue this recent stretch of quality pitching from San Diego's rotation.
Over the last eight games, Padres starters have gone 7-0. In Volquez' last outing, he threw seven solid innings of one-run ball against the Braves, who lead the NL East by 6 1/2 games. It was a welcome sight after he pitched one of his worst career starts in his previous outing, giving up nine runs on eleven hits in just 2 1/3 innings at Coors Field. Volquez is 2-1 all-time against the Giants and tonight he opposes a pitcher who hasn't had the best luck against the Padres historically.
Taking the mound for the Giants will be Barry Zito, who has seen his share of struggles lately. He is just 1-4 with a 7.15 ERA over his last six starts. Most recently, he gave up eight runs in 4 2/3 innings as San Francisco went on to a 12-8 loss to Pittsburgh. However, he has pitched much better this season at home, where he is 4-1 with a 1.94 ERA as opposed to the road where he's 0-4 with an 11.28 ERA. One of those home wins was against the Padres. On April 21st, he tossed seven scoreless innings against the Friars to complete a sweep of the San Diego club. However, he was tagged for five unearned runs at Petco Park one start later. Overall, the southpaw is 5-9 against the Padres in his career and just 2-5 with a 6.06 ERA in his last ten starts against them.
Though Zito and the Giants have had their success at home against San Diego this season, this time out they will be facing a surging Padres team on the verge of its season-high seventh straight win. It's a different team than the one that visited AT&T Park earlier this year during their initial stretch of 5-15 baseball. Since then, they've fought their way back to an above-.500 record and a single win away from taking the third place spot away from the Giants.
Though a recent return to quality pitching has a lot to do with this team's stretch of great baseball, it's also been, as Craig Elsten would call it, a "democratic" effort by the Padres offense that has turned the team around. No one player is responsible for this turnaround, but rather a team effort involving players all throughout the lineup. Over the last 12 games, they've hit .270 with 16 doubles and 19 home runs. They're coming off back-to-back sweeps of first-place teams and have now tied their sweep total from 2012.
Everth Cabrera will likely miss a few days and may possibly hit the DL soon after injuring his hamstring yesterday, but considering the Padres' recent injury issues, the overall team effort from the lineup has been crucial. They've already lost Cameron Maybin and Jedd Gyorko to the disabled list but have been able to keep the offensive production up with guys like Logan Forsythe and recently-acquired Pedro Ciriaco joining the team. Carlos Quentin is also day-to-day with a shoulder injury, but could return to the lineup by the end of the week.