The Padres opened up the series with a decisive win over the Dodgers. Tonight in game 2, Clayton Richard will take on Clayton Kershaw. Richard hasn't been the most reliable pitcher this season, but he's coming off his best start, a strong victory over the NL-West-leading Diamondbacks in which he allowed just one run on seven hits while issuing no walks in eight innings of work. It was his second win of the year, but first as a starter. Richard is 6-3 overall against L.A., but hasn't fared well against them lately, going 0-2 with a 6.12 ERA in his last five starts. Most recently, he was tagged for six runs in just 4 1/3 innings at Chavez Ravine on June 4th.
Standout rookie Yasiel Puig launched a 3-run homer off Richard in that game on June 4th. Yesterday, Puig hit a solo shot off starter Jason Marquis to bring his season total to six home runs in just 16 major league games. However, he then proceeded to strike out three times en route to the loss. Adrian Gonzalez, who has had much success against the Padres in the past, also struggled last night as he was held hitless for just the second time in 19 career games against them.
Tonight they'll try to turn it around and give Kershaw some more run support. Despite leading the NL with a 1.84 ERA while having given up only 73 hits in his 107 1/3 innings of work this season, Kershaw is just 5-4 due mostly to a lack of offense from the Dodgers lineup. His most recent loss was particularly rough. He tossed seven strong innings against the Pirates, allowing only three hits and collecting eight strikeouts. While L.A. went on to beat Pittsburgh in extra innings, Kenley Jansen's blown save meant Kershaw would end up with the no-decision, his fourth of the year. Kershaw hasn't been all great, however. Prior to this season, he had gone 8-3 with a 2.28 ERA in 17 starts against the Padres. But in his two starts against them this season (both at Dodger Stadium), he failed to get past the sixth inning and gave up a combined eight runs (five earned) on 14 hits.
Tonight may be even tougher for Kershaw, as he faces a red hot San Diego team that has won seven straight at home and finds itself right in the middle of the NL West race. Pedro Ciriaco has been helpful since joining the team one week ago. He went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI to help lead the Padres to victory. Logan Forsythe has also been a pleasant addition to the lineup since his return from the DL earlier this month. We've seen offensive production from the top to the bottom of the lineup and pitching and defense has seen some immense improvements since the beginning of the season. Tonight we'll see if that can hold up once more against the NL's most efficient pitcher.