Now deep into the dog days of summer, the San Diego Padres’ schedule for the remainder of the season gets tougher and will include a number of games against the top three teams in the National League West.
Going into this tough stretch, the team swept the Phillies (who have the worst record in baseball) but didn’t otherwise distinguish itself against non-contenders like the Pirates (1-2) and Reds (2-2).
On Thursday, the Nationals come to town for four games. Washington leads the NL East with 71 wins, ahead of the second place Miami Marlins by 13.5 games. Despite being ravaged by injuries, especially to outfielders like Bryce Harper (a huge loss obviously), Jayson Werth, Adam Eaton, Brian Goodwin and Ryan Raburn, the Nats have kept their lead intact.
The Padres will face starters Edwin Jackson, who played a forgettable 13 games last year for the Padres but has a 3-2 record and 3.30 ERA in five appearances so far with Washington; Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.25 ERA); San Diego’s own Stephen Strasburg (10-3, 3.25), and Gio Gonzalez (11-5, 2.49).
Then the Padres head out on the heat-and-humidity tour for three games in St. Louis and three in Miami. The Cardinals (61-59) actually find themselves in third place behind the Cubs and Brewers but have historically owned the home team.
In Miami (58-61) the pitchers will have the dubious pleasure of pitching to Giancarlo Stanton, who has hit 44 home runs so far this season and announced his intention to hit 62. Stanton insists that he considers Roger Maris’ 61 home runs the MLB record, because of the steroid suspicions surrounding, Mark McGwire (70) and Barry Bonds (73) as well as the fact that Babe Ruth (60 in 1927) never competed against African American talent.
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Then the Padres return home, finishing the month with three games against the bottom dwellers in the division, the San Francisco Giants. Madison Bumgarner returned last month after a lengthy absence thanks to his dirt bike injury and has a surprising 3-8 record this season, although he won his last two starts against the Cubs and Marlins. The Padres have a 3-0 record against him this season.
In September the dreaded Dodgers come to town for three games. By then Clayton Kershaw should have returned from the disabled list to join other top starters Rich Hill (8-4 3.44 ERA) and Alex Wood (14-1, 2.30) as well as recent addition Yu Darvish. Then the team faces a four-game series against the Cardinals before heading on a lengthy road trip that includes stops in Arizona, Minnesota (sandwiched between two off days), and Colorado. The Rockies and Diamondbacks both have winning records and rank first and second currently in the wild card standings in the National League.
On September 18, the Padres will return to sea level and again face the Rockies and Diamondbacks. The season ends on the road with stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco. On the plus side, if the Giants continue their current trajectory, the Padres stand a good chance of ending the season on a positive note.