06/29 Padres Preview: Game 81 @ Miami

USA TODAY Sports

Eric Stults hopes to keep the Padres on track in the second game of the series in Miami.

Eric Stults and the Padres have been riding a wave of success this past month. In each of his six starts since May 24th, Stults has kept opponents to two runs or less and has been arguably the team's most reliable starter. In that stretch, the Padres have gone from a fourth place team sitting five games under .500 to as high as second place and two games over .500. After last night's decisive 9-2 victory in game 1 at Marlins Park, they are right at .500, still in second place in the division, and 2.5 games out of first. Today, behind the reliable Stults, they'll try to get back above .500 and clinch at least a series split.

Stults is 2-0 (while the Padres are 3-1) with a 1.84 ERA in his last four starts. One of those was a complete game two-hitter in which he allowed just one run to earn the victory over the Diamondbacks. He is 1-1 all-time against Miami, having recorded a win against them earlier this season when they visited Petco Park. He limited them to just one run in 6 1/3 innings of work while the Padres scored five runs.

Miami will send to the hill a pitcher who has been almost as reliable as Stults has been for San Diego this month. Jacob Turner has averaged more than six innings per start in each of his five starts this season. He's allowed only eight runs (seven earned) while striking out 20 batters and keeping his ERA under 2.00. The right-hander had a disappointing Spring Training campaign and failed to make the team's 25-man roster out of camp, but since joining the rotation on May 31st, he's come a long way to redeeming himself. In his last start, he tossed seven innings of one-run ball in San Francisco, but the Marlins ended up losing the game, resulting in a no-decision for Turner.

Friday night's contest showed no indication of the Padres' recent offensive struggles. They tagged Marlins pitchers for nine runs on fifteen hits. Logan Forsythe and Will Venable lead the charge with three hits each, including a two-run homer for Forsythe and three RBI for Venable, who is now batting 7-for-13 against Miami pitching in 2013. Alexi Amarista, Chase Headley, and Yasmani Grandal also had a multi-hit night. Kyle Blanks went 1-for-5 with a run scored last night and is now hitting .296 with seven doubles and five home runs in June. Stults is hoping for another great performance from a starting lineup that hasn't given him much to work with lately. Despite the success he's seen in his last six starts (1.63 ERA, .201 opponents batting average, and only three walks issued), the Padres have given him two runs or fewer in five of them.

The Marlins lineup scattered nine hits and could only score two runs off Padres pitching last night. Giancarlo Stanton was one of the bright spots, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. He has thrived in Miami this season, batting .333 with with five doubles and five home runs at home. He could get some help on offense today with the expected return of Justin Ruggiano to the lineup after taking yesterday off to nurse a strained left shoulder. Ruggiano will most likely make the start against the lefty Stults today while patrolling left field at Marlins Park. He's gone .288 with 11 homers and 28 RBI this year. The Marlins will look to Stanton and Ruggiano to help their offense, which has struggled to show up against Padres pitching this season. In losing the first four matchups this year, Miami has only put up three runs against San Diego's twenty runs.

Winning the first game of a ten-game road trip, especially after dropping their last two at home, was huge for the Padres. Hopefully they can keep it rolling today and get back above the .500 mark.

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