The Padres had a welcome day off on Thursday, then began a nomadic journey that will take them to and fro across the country and up and down the coast into next month.
In their first stop, San Diego split the first two games with the Miami Marlins and won the rubber game 3-1 behind another no-hit tease by a Padres pitcher. This time, Clayton Richard pitched seven and two-thirds innings before he gave up a run on two hits.
After another losing April (10-20 including the three losses against the Milwaukee Braves at the end of March), the Padres have gradually begun to put it together and have a winning record in May and June so far. In May, the Padres split a four-game series with the Cardinals, but now will face them on their home turf.
St. Louis has a winning record, but currently resides in third place in the National League Central behind the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs. The Padres will have the good fortune of not facing Michael Wacha, who has an 8-1 record and 2.47 ERA so far this season.
Jordan Lyles has continued his inconsistency from start to start and would definitely like to forget his last one, a 14-1 beatdown against the Atlanta Braves. In 4.1 innings Lyles gave up 11 hits, two walks, and eight runs, including two via home runs.
The start before that, on May 31 vs. Miami, Lyles got the 8-3 win, going seven innings and giving up six hits, one walk, and two runs. In May, the Padres won four of Lyles’ six starts, and his ERA for the month was 3.45. He even teased Padre fans with a 7.1 inning no-hitter in mid-May.
Jack Flaherty, 22, has been splitting time between the big league team and the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. In his last start on June 6 against Miami, he pitched five innings and gave up eight hits and six runs (only four earned) in a 3-11 loss. In 39.1 innings, Flaherty has 42 strikeouts.
Game 2: TBA vs. Miles Mikolas (7-1, 2.27 ERA, 0.96 WHIP)
As of Sunday, the Padres had not announced a starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game against the Cardinals. Since Joey Lucchesi went on the disabled list with a strained hip, the Padres have struggled to fill his spot in the rotation. Recently, manager Andy Green has called upon the bullpen to take his place. Against Atlanta on Wednesday, Matt Strahm started the game, and Jose Castillo, Adam Cimber, Kirby Yates, and Brad Hand followed. Collectively they gave up four hits and one run in a 3-1 victory. However, that strategy becomes a little dicier with no off day until the 18th.
The Padres originally drafted Miles Mikolas in 2009 in the seventh round. However, in November, 2013, the team traded Mikolas and Jaff Decker to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Alex Dickerson. A month later, the Pirates traded him to the Texas Rangers, who released him November, 2014. But since being signed as free agent by the Cardinals at the end of 2017, he has resurrected his career. So far this year he has seven wins and 58 strikeouts in 79.1 innings.
So far, the Padres have chosen to give rookie Eric Lauer the opportunity to learn at the major league level rather than in the minor leagues, with puzzling results. In his last outing, Lauer pitched just five innings, giving up six hits, seven walks, and three runs in a 4-0 loss to the Marlins. Most concerning, he labored mightily, throwing 111 pitches, only 66 of which were strikes. However, in his previous start on June 2, Lauer gave up only one run on five hits with two walks in an 8-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, Weaver didn’t sign. By 2014, he moved up from the 19th to the first round with the Cardinals drafting him at 27. The Padres have faced him only once at Petco Park when he pitched five innings, giving up four hits and no runs. Of the Padres’ hitters, Manuel Margot has the most appearances at a paltry five.
Players to watch
Yadier Molina (of the famous catching siblings that include Jose and Bengie) always presents a threat at and behind the plate. He recently returned from the disabled list after missing a month due to a cringe-inducing injury involving a deflected 102-mph fastball and a cracked cup that required emergency surgery. He is the captain and heart and soul of the Cardinals’ team. In 34 games, he’s batting .271/.294/.442.
Jose Martinez has played most of his games at first and is batting .317/.387/.514. He leads the Cardinals with nine home runs and 40 RBI.
Travis Jankowski, known for his prowess in the outfield and speed on the bases, has been a pleasant surprise at the plate. Currently batting .309/.375/.382, he and Eric Hosmer have teamed up to be an offensive force at the top of the order. When Jankowski gets on base, Hosmer says he tends to get better pitches.
Hosmer leads the team with 19 doubles and is batting .293/.376/.858. At first base, he’s managed to scoop up most of the errant throws coming his way. His teammates have praised his knowledge of hitting, gained from logging many hours watching video, as well as his clubhouse demeanor.
Hunter Renfroe has been on fire since coming off the disabled list after missing more than a month due to elbow inflammation. In the last 30 days, the outfielder is hitting .357/.455/.607. He’s receiving more playing time lately, but also has been valuable as a pinch-hitter, including his grand slam against the Reds in early June, which led to a 6-3 Padres victory.