San Diego Padres
When the Mariners visited San Diego back in August, they still had reasonable playoff hopes and were looking forward to two easy wins against the worst team in the National League. Then they got swept.
The Padres beat the M's 2-1 and 8-3, the lineup failing a fine start by Felix Hernández and Erasmo Ramírez failing the lineup in a brutal one. Losing two straight to the Friars was another serious blow to the Mariners' season, and though they can now exact revenge by sweeping them here at home, the damage has pretty much all been done. The M's are not only 7½ back of the Athletics in the Wild Card standings (and 10 back of the Astros in the division), they're in danger of falling behind Tampa Bay, currently 8 back of the A's. If Seattle were in San Diego's National League West division, their 79 wins would be good for first pace, but not here in the AL West.
For the Mariners to get back at the Padres, they will need to take advantage of one of the saddest offenses in the Majors and score more than a couple runs off of a middling pitching corps. On Tuesday night, San Diego will start right-hander Brian Mitchell, a former reliever with the Yankees who began the season in the rotation, was shifted to relief in May, and back to starting just this month. He'd allowed multiple runs in each of his relief appearances and all but one of his starts until Labor Day, when he held the Diamondbacks to one run over five innings. Wednesday afternoon's scheduled starter is rookie southpaw Joey Lucchesi, the only Padre starter with a sub-4.00 ERA, who got the win against Seattle on August 29th with 62⁄3 strong innings.
San Digeo's lineup is decidedly non-threatening. Outside of backup catcher A.J. Ellis, who only has 141 at-bats, their best hitter by average is outfielder Franmil Reyes, at .265/.318/.531, and while several Padres have decent home-run power, Hunter Renfro leads the squad with 21 bombs. As a team, they lead the National League in striking out and have a Major League-worst on-base mark of .297.
The Mariners will start lefties Marco Gonzales (Tuesday) and Wade LeBlanc (Wednesday). Gonzales will be making his first start since hitting the disabled list with a strained neck after being roughed up by the Astros a couple weeks ago; he has virtually no experience against the Padres, having faced only Ellis (0-for-1) and Eric Hosmer (0-for-2, 2 Ks). LeBlanc has a little more history against them, with current Padres going 0-for-11 with one walk (to Wil Myers) thus far.
Players to Watch
Hunter Renfroe: The second-year outfielder has improved on his rookie campaign, but still has a ways to go to prove he belongs in the Majors, though he has proved himself better than most in Triple-A. He leads the current crop of Padres in home runs, and—remarkably—is among the top Padres in terms of batting average by being a hair above .250.
Kirby Yates: An outstanding setup reliever for most of the season, Yates was given the closer's job after Brad Hand was traded to the Indians in July. He hasn't taken to it as well as was expected, but to be fair, the Padres haven't given him much to work with in terms of save opportunities. His outstanding 1.98 ERA and 77 Ks in 55 innings suggest he has a future there, though.
Eric Hosmer: One of the few recognizable players in the Padre lineup, the Gold Glove first-baseman has been a disappointment so far in San Diego. Signed to a giant eight-year free-agent contract last winter, Hoz is in the midst of his worst season since 2012. Last year's outstanding Silver Slugger campaign is a distant memory as he struggles to keep his on-base percentage above .300 with his new team.
Andy Green: If you saw the name Andy Green and went, "Who?" you're not alone. Green has been the Padres' manager for three years now, but has next-to-zero national recognition. Well on his way to a third 90+ loss season, Green was previously a coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks and manager in the Pioneer and Southern Leagues after a playing career that included 140 games in the Majors over four seasons, most with Arizona. A utility infielder, Green was the Pacific Coast League MVP in 2005 and began 2006 with the Diamondbacks, but only managed a .199 career average before Arizona agreed to sell his contract to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Green hoped to succeed in Japan in the way that other so-called "quadruple-A" players Wladimir Balentien and Andy Sheets had, but never had the chance, as injuries relegated him to the Japanese minors for most of his year with Nippon Ham. Still, Japan was good for Green: "It shaped me in a profound way," he said. "I always identified myself as the hardest worker. I thought that I got after it more than anyone else. But then I went halfway across the world to a nation of people who all worked harder than I did. If that wasn't my identity, what was? I was a good communicator, but I couldn't speak the language. But I think going through that process gave me a great deal of empathy for players coming over here from every country. That experience is very [valuable for] where I'm sitting right now."
Green won Southern League Manager of the Year honors with Mobile in 2013 and 2014. Despite the poor showing in the standings since joining the Padres, the Friars' brass thinks enough of Green to have extended his contract through the 2021 season.
What? Nobody? Despite the history of trades and ties between the M's and Pads, no one on San Diego's current 40-man roster or coaching staff has played or coached for the Mariners.
|San Diego Padres||(1969 - present)|
|League Champions:||1984, 1998|
|Division Titles:||1996, 2005, 2006|