With the San Diego Padres playing their best baseball of the season, the team travels to St. Louis tonight to take on the Cardinals. The Padres’ current hot streak began against these same Cardinals in San Diego at the end of July, with the Friars taking two of three games, and outscoring the Redbirds 17-8 in the series.
San Diego has gone 11-3 over that stretch. Their current five-game winning streak has improved their overall record to 57-62, the first time they have been that close to .500 since June 1, when they were 26-31.
Taking the hill tonight for the Padres is the red-hot Eric Stults, coming off two straight victories against the Braves and Pirates, which included a 2-hit effort against Atlanta. Stultsie allowed a total of one earned run in 12.2 innings in those two games, and the two wins improved his record to 5-13 and improved his ERA from 5.22 to 4.76. The left-hander has allowed three or fewer earned run in eight of his last nine starts.
The Cardinals have lost two straight series, going 2-4 against the Orioles and Marlins.
On the bump for St. Louis will be newcomer John Lackey. The right-hander, acquired in a trade with the Red Sox (who traded their entire starting rotation) at the trading deadline, has had mixed results in his two starts with the Redbirds, following a 7-inning, two-run winning effort against the Brewers with a 13-hit, nine-run shelling against the Orioles last Saturday.
San Diego, who leads the majors over the last two weeks with a .276 batting average and 4.6 runs per game, will look to continue to pile on Lackey.
They will have to do it without several of their hottest hitters, though. First baseman Yonder Alonso, who has hit .556 and slugged .957 in August, was returned to the disabled list today with a strained right forearm. Third baseman Yangervis Solarte, who has collected a .370 on-base percentage since joining the team, left Wednesday’s game in the seventh inning with a strained muscle in his left side, and is currently day-to-day. And shortstop Everth Cabrera, who has hit .350 during the streak, also landed on the DL a few days ago.
The Padres will be looking for continued strong performances from Jedd Gyorko, who is hitting .333 during the Pads’ 11-3 run, including a 4-for-4 effort Wednesday, and rookie Rymer Liriano, who has added a huge spark to the team in his first three games, highlighted by yesterday’s monstrous home run into the third deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building.
Game time is 5:15 San Diego Time.