The San Diego Padres on Saturday night will continue their daunting 22-game stretch to close the regular season.
The Padres will visit the Los Angeles Dodgers again, one day after falling 3-0 to their National League West rival and dropping into a tie with the Cincinnati Reds for the league’s final wild-card spot.
It only will get more difficult for the Padres with infielder Jake Cronenworth lost for an undetermined amount of time after he was hit by a pitch Friday and came away with a small fracture in his left ring finger. The injury could force the Padres to move Fernando Tatis Jr. back to shortstop from the outfield.
Friday’s game was the first in a season-ending 22-game stretch for the Padres that will take place exclusively against teams with winning records. Of those 22 games, 19 are against the Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves, three of the top four teams in the NL.
Even if the Padres break things down in more manageable chunks, Friday was still the start of a 10-game trip that opened in Los Angeles, then heads to San Francisco and ends up in St Louis next weekend.
“They’re definitely playoff games,” said Padres right-hander Chris Paddack, who will start for San Diego on Saturday. “It’s not often you have 10 games like this. … It’s make-or-break (time). We’ve got to win the series.”
To win the current one, Paddack (7-6, 4.95 ERA) will need another solid performance Saturday like the two he has delivered since returning from the injured list because of a strained left oblique.
Paddack gave up one run in 4 2/3 innings Aug. 30 against the Arizona Diamondbacks and three runs over six innings Sunday against the Houston Astros. Paddack took a no-decision in each game, but the Padres won both.
He is 1-2 in five lifetime starts against the Dodgers with a 6.94 ERA, including nine runs allowed in nine innings against them last season.
The Dodgers will counter with right-hander Walker Buehler (13-3, 2.31), who is coming off his worst start of the season when he gave up six runs on seven hits over a season-low three innings in a 6-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
The Cy Young Award candidate was never in sync in that Sunday start in the Bay Area, lasting just 53 pitches with one strikeout against the 17 batters he faced.
Just two starts before his rough outing against the Giants, Buehler gave up only one unearned run in a victory over the Padres on Aug. 25. In eight career starts against San Diego, he is 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA.
After a disappointing 3-4 trip to San Francisco and St. Louis, the Dodgers got back on track Friday to remain 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Giants in the NL West. The Dodgers had lost ground to the Giants in each of their previous two games, both losses to the Cardinals.
The Dodgers’ talented offense has sputtered of late, but a home run from Max Muncy on Friday, to go along with seven scoreless innings from left-hander Julio Urias, was more than enough to upend the Padres.
“Our pitching has been great this second half and the entire season,” Muncy said on the SportsNet LA broadcast. “As long as they put us in (position) to win, the offense will come around eventually. We still weren’t that great (Friday), but we got the job done, and at the end of the day it was a W.”
–Field Level Media