The last time Zack Greinke went up against the Padres, he emerged with a broken collarbone while Carlos Quentin was hit with an eight-game suspension. The two will face each other tonight for the first time since the benches-clearing brawl between the teams in April.
Greinke's broken collarbone forced him to sit out more than a month. Tonight will be his eighth start since returning from the DL and his first time back at Petco Park. But it's only his second start since his last incident on the field. On June 11th, Ian Kennedy hit Yasiel Puig on the shoulder with a pitch. Greinke retaliated with a pitch to Miguel Montero that caught him in the face, to which Kennedy responded by hitting Greinke in his next plate appearance, causing the benches to clear. Greinke avoided the melee and came out relatively unscathed. It remains to be seen whether or not April's events at Petco Park will resurface, but it's safe to say both the Dodgers and the Padres will be playing a highly emotional game tonight.
Now Greinke is coming off an outing in which he allowed five runs in five innings of a 6-3 loss to the Pirates. In his short career against the Padres (two starts spanning 11 innings), he is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA. Since returning from the DL, he's thrown 37 2/3 innings while going 2-2 and racking up a 5.02 ERA.
The Dodgers are losers of nine of their last twelve games and continue to sink lower into the NL West cellar. They now find themselves 12 games under .500 and 9 1/2 games back in the division. They'll be looking for another stellar performance from their star rookie, Puig. After a career-high three-strikeout night in the series opener, Puig went 2-for-4 last night to improve his season (and by that, I mean 17 games) average to .455.
The Padres will give the ball to Edinson Volquez, who will need to step it up and pitch deep into the game tonight. Last night San Diego lost Clayton Richard to a shoulder (re-)injury after only two pitches and was forced to call on the bullpen early and unexpectedly. Tim Stauffer and Tyson Ross stepped up in long relief to lead the Padres to a win, but it has made for a taxed bullpen that could use a break tonight. Unfortunately, they haven't been prone to breaks with Volquez on the mound. The right-hander has failed to pitch past the fifth inning in three of his last four starts. However, he hasn't been tagged with a loss in over a month. Since May 21st, he is 2-0 in five starts, including two of his best outings of the season, against the Mariners (7 1/3 IP, 1 R, 4 H) and the Braves (7 IP, 1 R, 6 H).
Volquez' undefeated streak probably has more to do with the Padres offense than anything, though. San Diego comes into tonight's matchup having won 12 of their last 16 games overall and each of their last eight games at home. Tonight they expect to see Quentin's bat return to the lineup after he missed seven straight games with a shoulder injury. Since serving his suspension in April, Quentin hit .276 with seven home runs and 19 RBI through 40 games before aggravating his shoulder on a swing last week. He's a career 6-for-26 with three homers (and three HBP) against Greinke.
At this point, it's a pleasant surprise that Quentin was able to recover and didn't have to be placed on the disabled list, as the number of Padres on the DL seems to keep growing. Bereft of a good chunk of their starters, the Padres have been making it work at the plate and on the field by truly working as a team, with different players stepping up every night. We'll see whose turn it is tonight and whether or not these surging Padres can put together another win.