Cardinals-Padres Preview

It’s well known how bad the San Diego Padres’ offense is but less so that the St. Louis Cardinals are baseball’s second-lowest scoring club.

Surging right-handers Lance Lynn and Tyson Ross figure to be eager to face these offenses in their matchup to open this three-game series at pitcher-friendly Petco Park on Tuesday night.

San Diego (46-59) owns baseball’s worst offense, averaging 3.1 runs with 72 homers – the third-lowest total in the majors. The Padres’ .218 batting average is baseball’s worst and only the 1972 Texas Rangers (.217) finished with a lower mark since the divisional era started in 1969.

St. Louis (56-48) boasted the NL’s top offense a year ago with 4.8 runs per game, but that figure is down to 3.7 in 2014. The Cardinals have homered a league-low 68 times.

Games at Petco Park average 6.1 runs – baseball’s lowest figure. That figures to play to the advantage of Lynn (11-7, 3.05 ERA) and Ross.

Ross owns the NL’s best ERA in July at 1.03 while Lynn is not far behind at 1.75.

Lynn’s three-start win streak ended last Wednesday when he yielded two runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-0 defeat to Tampa Bay. He struck out seven and threw 118 pitches – his second-highest total.

"He did a great job of keeping us in that game," manager Mike Matheny said. "Threw a lot of pitches but really fought to keep us in."

Lynn is 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two career outings against the Padres – both in St. Louis. Will Venable has faced him the most among San Diego hitters, going 4 for 7 with a homer.

Ross (9-10, 2.65) is seeking his first career three-start win streak after limiting the Chicago Cubs to one run in six innings with a career-high 11 strikeouts last Thursday in a 13-3 road win.

"The power fastball-slider combination was there," manager Bud Black said. "It’s devastating."

That combination has resulted in Ross’ 58.6 groundball percentage that is second in the majors to Houston’s Dallas Keuchel.

Ross has never started against the Cardinals, allowing an unearned run in three innings of relief over three appearances.

St. Louis is hoping Matt Holliday can continue his surge as it searches for offense. Holliday has found his power stroke of late – hitting half of his 10 homers in his last 11 games, including two this weekend as the Cardinals took two of three on the road from the Cubs.

Matt Carpenter, among the NL’s leaders with a .320 road average, went 6 for 13 with four runs scored in that series.

San Diego welcomed back second baseman Jedd Gyorko for Monday’s 2-0 loss at Atlanta – the 16th time it was shut out. Gyorko, who went 1 for 3 and is batting .164, was out since June 4 with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

Third baseman Yangervis Solarte will make his home debut after being acquired last Tuesday in the deal that sent Chase Headley to the New York Yankees. Solarte went 0 for 4 against Lynn earlier this year for New York.

The Cardinals took four of six from the Padres last year.