Tim Stauffer gets the call in the first game of the set against the Pirates. He will make his third start of the year, plugging holes in the wounded San Diego rotation. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The San Diego Padres (26-31) will find a like foe tonight at Petco Park as the Pittsburgh Pirates(26-30) come into town to open up a three game series with a first pitch at 7:10. The two clubs are both one good run away from the .500 mark on the year. This is the first meeting of the season between the two clubs, with another three game series set for early August at PNC Park in Pittsburg. Tim Stauffer ( 2-1, 4.50) will go for the Padres against Charlie Morton (1-7, 3.29) for the Pirates.
Stauffer will be making his third start of the season for the Padres. His first start featured a sparkling shut out five innings with five strike outs against the Cubs. His last, not as sparkling as he allowed seven runs, all earned in just a third of an inning. On the year Stauffer is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 24 innings pitched. He had allowed just 5 runs in his 13 appearances prior to the drubbing by Chicago.
Morton is just 1-7 this season, but has a solid 3.29 ERA across his 11 starts and 68.1 innings pitched. He lost his last start on the road against the New York Mets, when he allowed three runs across 5.1 innings pitched. Morton is 0-4, with one no decision, in five starts on the road so far this season.
As they return home, the Padres hope they can ignite something in Seth Smith, a lifetime .337 hitter at Petco Park. Through his 26 games played in the friendly pet confines of home, Smith has posted a .378/.462/.678 line. That is the 6th-best average, 5th-best on-base percentage and 6th-best slugging percentage at home in baseball. One other note according to the Padres official media notes, his lifetime average is third all-time behind noted Padres thorns Shawn Green (.377) and Todd Helton (.338). Considering his 2-for-10 three-game road trip, Smith may have kissed the infield dirt when he got back.
Whether home or away, Padres’ fans over the years have been able to see some great numbers from the San Diego ‘pen. As the Padres pitching staff holds the fifth-best ERA in all of baseball, Padres media reports the bullpen resides in more rarefied air when it comes to the rest of the league. Relievers for San Diego own the second best ERA in baseball at 2.27 over 182 innings pitched.
As both of these teams sit within five games of the .500 mark, it becomes a key series both ways to start the month of June. In years past, this could have been a series the Padres circled to ‘get well’ as they say in baseball. The Padres not only own the all-time record against Pittsburgh and a 20-12 mark at Petco, against the Pirates, San Diego owns the 5th-highest winning percentage of any team against a single opponent in the past five years. A cautionary note comes with that nugget from Padres media however; these clearly are not your older brother’s Pirates as they have left doormat status well behind.
Game two on Tuesday will also have a 7:10 pm PDT first pitch, with Gerrit Cole (5-3, 3.80) for the Pirates going against Jesse Hahn, who will make his big league debut for the Padres. Wednesday’s series wrap-up is set for 3:40 pm PDT.
Keep the Faith.