The Padres are riding a pretty good wave right now. They've won 7 of their last 11. Their last three series' were against clubs with winning record and they took two of them and split the other one. Not too shabby. Actually, the Padres have done pretty well against most of the teams they have played who currently have winning records. They are 16-16 against winning teams... if you exclude the Astros and Nationals. You can't really exclude them, but what if you changed some things around?
The series against the Astros easily has to be the Padres' worst of the season. It was played at Petco Park, it was a sweep, and the Padres were not particularly close in any of the games. It was bad. It will always be bad. And those loses count no matter what. But did the timing of that loss affect the psyche of the Padres fan? Let's pull that series out of the schedule for a moment and see what happens.
The Padres-Astros series happened at the end of April. In fact, it was the Padres' last series in April. Going into the series the Padres were 11-9 and weren't exactly on top of the world having lost a home series to the Dodgers and splitting a winnable series in Colorado before that. But still, 11-9 is a fine record for late April. If you take out that Astros series, the Padres would then rip off 3 straight wins at home versus the Rockies to begin may and jump up to 14-9. From there they would muddle through early May winning some series, losing some, and splitting one in Seattle. All the while they'd be sitting on a record that was 2-5 games over .500.
That is until the Cubs and Dodgers series' where they lost 4 out of the 6 games. They would enter the Cubs series at Petco with a 19-17 record and lose 2 out of 3 to fall back to .500 for the first time since April 11. They would also lose 2 out of 3 to the Dodgers to go 1 game below .500. However, they would then win 6 of their next 10 and be 27-25 coming off this most recent Mets series. To me that looks like a team that's playing some solid ball, slipped a little in late May and then corrected course.
Of course, as I said earlier, the Astros series still counts. You have to insert it somewhere; perhaps you insert it now. Sure, that still makes the Padres 27-28 and one game under .500, but it also prevented the club from spending most of May looking like a club barely keeping its head above water. The Astros would also come into this fictionalized series boasting a 31-21 record and looking like a juggernaut instead of an upstart with an 11-7 record like they did at the end of April. Would that change how people thought about the Padres during that time?
Also, if you take a look at the upcoming schedule, the Padres play the under .500 Reds and under .500 Braves over the next 7 games. What if the Padres go 4-3 or 5-2 over that stretch and then you inserted the Astros series? In that scenario the Padres would have spent a grand total of 2 days under .500 after April 11 and would leave the inserted Astros series either 31-31 or 32-30.
The Nationals series doesn't provide quite the same provocation as the Astros series since it leaves the Padres still floating only a game or two above .500 for most of May and only prevents the club from sliding too far below .500 after those Cubs and Dodgers series'. However, you're still talking about a 1-3 performance against a division leader. Those things are going to happen.
Does any of this really matter? Not especially. It was just something on my mind that I thought I would share with everyone to see if they thought it was interesting. There is still an interesting bottom line to the Padres schedule and results. They have succeeded against teams that aren't the current division leaders. Earlier I said the Padres are 16-16 against non-Astros and non-Nationals. If you also exclude the division leading Dodgers the record is 13-10. Now, if the goal was to win a division that also includes the Dodgers, then that's not good, but that was always a longshot (at least in my mind). If the goal is to win a wild card spot, then that's manageable (at least for now).