SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres return home where the weather has been as warm as the team.
The Padres (33-44) welcome the Baltimore Orioles (45-30) on Tuesday, the first of a brief two-game, interleague series at Petco Park. The set kicks off a five-game homestead for the Padres, their last before the All-Star break.
San Diego returns from a six-game road trip in which they went 4-2 and continued to swing hot bats.
Before taking three of four from the Cincinnati Reds, the Padres split a pair of games at Baltimore.
In the first game between these two on Tuesday night, the Padres right-hander Erik Johnson (0-5, 8.54 ERA) squares off against righty Ubaldo Jimenez (4-7, 6.97).
Johnson came over from the Chicago White Sox in the trade which sent veteran starter James Shields to the South Side. But Johnson has struggled since landing with the Padres. It is his fourth start as a Padre and his second with the team against the Orioles.
Last Wednesday, Johnson was punished by the Orioles in a loss. He surrendered six runs on nine hits, two of which were home runs, in a season-low four innings.
Johnson has reached the sixth inning in just one of his three starts with San Diego.
"He’s run into a little bit of tough luck," Padres manager Andy Green told MLB.com. "If you look at his last outing, we didn’t do some things defensively behind him that we should’ve done, in Baltimore, some balls found holes.
"I think the No. 1 thing for him is we’ve got to keep the ball in the ballpark, give our defense an opportunity to make plays. If he does that, he’s going to have the opportunity to be successful."
To do so, Johnson needs to keep his pitches from hitting the outfield seats. He has been touched for seven home runs in 14 2/3 innings, which helps explain his 9.82 ERA in his three Padres starts.
Jimenez has struggled after the calendar flipped to May 1. Since, he has fashioned a 8.44 ERA and issued 30 walks in 48 innings.
But Jimenez is coming off a solid performance, when he stymied the Padres on Wednesday. Jimenez picked up the win as he worked six innings and allowed two runs on six hits. He struck out five but walked a season-high four.
To get back on track, Jimenez simplified his plan.
"I think the approach was going back to the basics," Jimenez said. "Just see the target, hit the glove and try to get him out."
The results were positive as Jimenez won for the first time since April 13.
"It was good to see him go home and feel good about himself," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Now the Padres are back home, hoping to change their luck against Jimenez.