The Padres have outdone themselves once more and now find themselves just one game out of first place in the NL West. Their extra-inning victory last night allowed them to leapfrog the Giants in the standings and they could possibly see themselves tied for first place by the end of the night. It would take losses by both the Diamondbacks and the Rockies, as well as another win against San Francisco, but it just goes to show how far this team has come from the one that started the season 5-15.
They'll go for their eighth straight win tonight with Andrew Cashner on the hill. He's been a great addition to the rotation since transitioning back from the bullpen in late April. He's thrown at least six innings while going 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA in each of his last seven starts, and his most recent was one of the best of his career. He kept the NL-East-leading Braves to just two runs on six hits through a career-high eight innings of work.
Cashner is already making his third start against the Giants this season alone, having pitched in each of the two previous series. Despite going 1-1 in those two starts, he pitched well in both, giving up a combined three earned runs in 10 total innings of work. Prior to this season he had notched two career losses in relief outings against San Francisco. Cashner has already played an integral role in this series. Last night he made an unexpected pinch-hit appearance in the 13th inning of the opener and drove home the winning runs with an RBI bunt single.
The Giants, now sitting at fourth place in the NL West, will counter with Matt Cain to try to put an end to the Padres' hot streak. Cain began his month with a rough outing against the Cardinals in which he allowed a season-high seven runs on nine hits. But since then he's worked his way back into a groove, giving up just one run on six hits in 13 2/3 total innings over his last two starts. He earned his fifth win of the season his last time out in a 6 2/3-inning two-hit performance against the Pirates.
Cain has a lifetime 7-11 record and 3.17 ERA against San Diego, but has dominated them recently, going 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA in his last three starts against them. Tonight will be his first time facing them this season.
The Padres and Giants are both battling injury issues, but have done relatively well with the remaining players on their rosters. Marco Scutaro may return to the lineup as early as tonight, but the Giants are still missing Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval. Carlos Quentin and Everth Cabrera remain day-to-day for the Padres and will both miss tonight's game. But even with some of the top hitters on the shelf for both teams, we should expect another close and competitive matchup tonight as the teams continue to fight for the top spot in the NL West.