The Padres offense continued to struggle last night and this time pitching wasn't able to keep the game in reach for them. In the rubber game of the series tonight, Robbie Erlin will try to keep the Phillies at bay while the offense tries to put up a better fight against Cole Hamels.
Erlin made his major league starting debut on June 1st in another spot start for Richard. His scheduled starts in Tucson lined up perfectly with Richard's, and with a successful first start already behind him, he was an obvious choice to make the start tonight. In his debut, he kept the Blue Jays to just two runs in 6 2/3 innings to earn the win. He has gone 6-2 with a 5.25 ERA in 12 starts for the triple-A club this season and in addition to his start against Toronto, he has pitched two innings (giving up two runs) in relief at the big league level.
Opposing the rookie Erlin will be Hamels, who hopes a return to his hometown and a team that he's dominated in the past will spark a turnaround for his season. Hamels' 11 losses this season are the most in the majors and match his career-worst totals from 2009 and 2010. So another loss would already set a new record for him. But he has pitched better than his 2-11 record would suggest. He has a mediocre 4.50 ERA on the season, but averages over eight strikeouts per nine innings. He's pitched quality starts in five of his last seven games, but his last time out he gave up four runs in six innings after being given a 3-0 lead.
Those three runs are indicative of what Hamels has had to work with all season, with his 3.06 run support average being one of the lowest in the league. Over his last five starts on the road, he went 0-4 while his offense could only spit out three combined runs. But Hamels has always had success against his hometown team. He has a lifetime 8-2 record, 2.15 ERA, and .186 opponents' batting average in 13 career starts against the Padres.