Last night’s victory against the Braves was the Padres third straight, and they’ve now won 5 of their first 7 games coming out of the All-Star break. I think it’s safe to say that this is the hottest the Padres have been all year. With the bats working and the pitching remaining consistently great has made watching the Padres over this stretch more fun than it has been all year.
Toeing the rubber for the Friars this afternoon will be Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 1.31 ERA). Although he’s just a rookie, whose only made 5 starts, he’s quickly becoming a star. In his last start, OD captured probably all of San Diego’s attention as we all watched to see if we would finally be able to celebrate a no-hitter like the 29 other major league franchises have. Unfortunately, he would fall 4 outs short, but he did prove that he can be dominant. Actually that wasn’t the first time he’s proved that, he’s proved it 5 times already going 6+ innings, while allowing 2 or fewer runs in all of his starts. The one time he did allow 2 runs, happened to be against a team that has the third best record in the NL, and only a game back of the NL leader. It also happened to be against the best pitcher on the planet, Clayton Kershaw, so all in all, his worst start thus far, was still pretty damn good. Today he’ll try to keep up his dominating trend against the Braves.
Despaigne will have a tall order to face in Braves righty Julio Teheran (9-6, 2.64 ERA). Teheran, a first time All-Star this year, has come into his own this season, bringing consistency to the injury riddled Braves rotation. His last time out, he was as good as ever, holding the Marlins to 1 run, on 4 hits, in 7 innings, but his 2 starts prior to that were less impressive. On July 13th against the Cubs, he allowed 4 runs, on 7 hits, over 7 innings, but still earned the win and on the 8th against the Mets, he was blown up for 5 runs, on 11 hits in just 3 1/3. That start marked only the second time he had not made it through the 6th inning in a start this year. So the question is what Teheran will face the Padres tonight? The one who dominated the Marlins or the one who struggled against the hapless offenses of the Cubs and Mets? We’ll soon find out.
Today also marks the return of Yonder Alonso. The Padre first baseman has been sidelined since June 19th due to a wrist injury, but he has finished his rehab and will join the team today at the expense of Jake Goebbert. I don’t know if should be happy that one of our more promising young bats has returned to the lineup, or be upset that the struggling lefty will just take away at bats from Tommy Medica who has done nothing but impress in his most recent major league stint. Alonso was having the worst year of his already unimpressive major league career before hitting the DL with career lows in pretty much every offensive category. The only positive was his 5 home runs is just 4 off of his career high in fewer than than half the games played, so there’s reason to believe that he may be a 10+ home run hitter some day. Hopefully it was his wrist that had hampered from finally becoming the player that the scouts had projected him to be and now he can finally excel in the majors. I highly doubt it, but we can always hope.
Speaking of the lineup, Alonso will be batting 7th in his return tonight. Leading off will be Alexi Amarista with Yangervis Solarte behind him. Bud Black seems to like that 1-2 punch at the top his order despite Amarista’s struggles at the top spot and Solarte’s limited experience at the top the lineup. Even though there’s nothing that shows it’s a good thing, it’s still nice to see at least some level of consistency in Black’s lineup which has been a rarity over the course of his tenure here.
On a side note, happy birthday to Joaquin Benoit! The Padre closer is turning 37 today, and will hopefully get a chance to close out a Padre victory today.
First pitch is at 4:10 PDT.