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Missionary Trip: Previewing the Padres visit to the Diamondbacks

If I were a San Diego fan, I'd be very, very confused at this point, feeling like I was the accused in some bizarre baseball variant on the old 'good cop, bad cop' scenario. The Padres sit exactly at .500 as they arrive for a three-game series against the Diamondbacks, but the way they have got there is about as far from equitable as can be imagined. They initially confounded expectations by roaring out of the gate to a 9-3 start, that had them tied for the lead in the division. However, the team predicted by many to lose a hundred games then showed up, and San Diego lost nineteen of the next 23 games, including two six-game losing streaks. But just when everyone was ready to bury them and their 13-22 record, they have reeled off nine straight victories, sweeping the Reds, Giants and Cubs, to get back level.

Which is where they arrive here, and the good news is, it's on the road that the Padres have experienced almost all their problems. In Petco, they are a devastating 17-6, with a ten-game home winning streak. But outside of the pitcher-friendly confines, San Diego are a dismal 5-16, having lost fourteen of the last fifteen away from home, including the past eleven games straight [their longest road skid since 1971]. When you look at the lines in Petco and elsewhere produced by their hitters and pitchers, it becomes particularly apparent exactly where that issue is. One of these things is not like the other:

Petco: .216/.314/.361= .674 OPS, 3.74 runs per game
Away: .248/.311/.410 = .721 OPS, 3.81 runs per game

Petco: .217/.295/.325 = .620 OPS, 3.22 runs per game
Away: .286/.368/.467 = .815 OPS, 5.95 runs per game

In case it's not obvious [and in which case, I can only apologize that this post is not available in Braille], the Padres' pitching blows chunks completely on the road, allowing almost six runs per game. Among the starters, the worst offender is Chris Young and his 8.03 ERA on the road, compared to 2.25 in Petco. Unfortunately, he pitched yesterday, beating the Cubs (in San Diego, naturally), so we won't be able to take advantage in this series. But some of their bullpen have been even worse: Luke Gregerson is the absolute extreme example, and must really like home cooking.
   Gregerson at home: .127 BA against, zero ERA
   Gregerson on the road: .381 BA against, 10.61 ERA

The three starters we do face - Chad Gaudin, Kevin Correia and Jake Peavy [yeah, I thought we'd got rid of him too...] - are a combined 1-7 on the road. The sole win belongs to Peavy, and in fact is the only win recorded by a Padres starter outside of Petco this year. Their combined road ERA of 4.43 isn't bad though, and it would be foolish to think we will just be able to waltz to a sweep, even if the last time the Padres tasted victory without the scent of Shamu in their nostrils, was all the way back on April 28th.

Ok, just realized it's a 12:40 first-pitch, Arizona time, so need to get this up and posted. Gameday Thread to follow shortly, for the view from the opposing dugout, please visit Gaslamp Ball. And if you wish, unicorns and sparkly rainbows can be added to the site through this tool. :-)