June 26, 2021
Two teams headed in distinctly opposite directions meet Saturday night in San Diego in the middle contest of a three-game series.
The host Padres have won eight straight games – all at home – while hitting 19 home runs and 17 doubles.
Meanwhile, the traveling horror show that is the Arizona Diamondbacks extended their major league-record road losing streak to 24 straight games following Friday’s 11-5 setback to San Diego.
Both teams had 13 hits Friday night, with the Diamondbacks collecting three doubles and 10 singles. The Padres, in turn, had five homers — including three by Fernando Tatis Jr., with the first two of those part of back-to-back homer sets in the first two innings.
The Diamondbacks have now lost 20 of their last 21 games and are 6-43 after a 15-13 start.
“You have no idea what’s happening inside of our clubhouse on a daily basis and the pain that we’re feeling after a game,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said earlier this week.
As for the Padres: “As a group, we’re swinging the bats much better right now,” San Diego manager Jayce Tingler said. “It was only a matter of time. Right now it’s a good combination.”
The Padres have been on a roller-coaster ride for more than six weeks now.
First was a nine-game winning streak inside a 16-3 run that also included parts of a franchise-record 12-game home winning streak. Then came a 4-13 plunge. Now it’s another eight-game winning streak – all at home before frenzied crowds who are celebrating the chance to return to Petco Park in capacity numbers.
“The fans have been amazing,” Tatis said Friday night after the first three-homer game of his career. “Do we hear the fans? How could we not.”
Before Friday’s game, Tatis announced he would not be participating in the Home Run Derby at next month’s All-Star Game in deference to protecting the left shoulder he partially dislocated during the season’s first week.
“Next year,” said Tatis, who is tied with Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with a majors-best 25 homers.
Which might be what the Diamondbacks players are thinking as their season limps toward the midpoint.
Arizona will be sending Merrill Kelly (3-7, 5.06 ERA) out against San Diego’s Dinelson Lamet (2-2, 2.81) in a pairing of right-handers Saturday.
Lamet owns a 2-2 record with a 5.54 ERA in five career starts against Arizona. He was on the injured list when the Padres met the Diamondbacks earlier in the season.
Lamet has yet to get an out in the sixth inning of any of his eight starts, although he threw a season-high 81 pitches while shutting out Cincinnati on four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in his most recent outing. He has allowed one or no runs in six of his eight starts.
Kelly could very well represent the Diamondbacks’ best shot at beating the Padres.
He is coming off his best outing of the year, picking up Arizona’s only win since June 2 by holding Milwaukee to one run on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts over seven innings.
The 32-year-old Kelly has a 6-2 record in nine starts against the Padres since returning from South Korea in 2019. He has a career 2.92 ERA against the Padres with a 1.216 WHIP.
Kelly is 1-1 in two starts against the Padres this season, giving up four runs on nine hits and five walks with nine strikeouts in 10 innings.
–Field Level Media