Giants, Padres open three-game series

SAN DIEGO — While the Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks are spending the final two weeks of the regular season battling for the National League West title and possibly a wild-card berth, the division’s other two teams will be meeting each other six times for absolutely nothing.

Half of the San Francisco Giants‘ final 12 games will be played against the San Diego Padres, starting with a three-game series opening Monday at Petco Park. The bottom two teams in the NL West will then meet again at AT&T Park on Sept. 24-26.

Both the Padres and Giants could still play a role in deciding who goes to the playoffs. The Padres have three games remaining with the Dodgers in Los Angeles and host the Arizona Diamondbacks for the final three games of the season.

The Giants are not a wild-card contender and they face St. Louis Sept. 21-23 and finish the season by hosting the arch-rival Dodgers in San Francisco.

But there is almost nothing to decide in the six games behind the Padres and Giants — they are going to finish fourth and fifth in the division … and even that is all but settled. The Giants lead the Padres by exactly 10 games with 12 to play.

The Giants hold an 8-5 edge in their head-to-head with the Padres thus far, although the teams have split the first six games played at Petco Park.

Monday night’s series opener will match Padres right-hander Bryan Mitchell (1-3, 6.07 earned run average) against Giants left-hander Andrew Suarez (6-11, 4.33 ERA).

Mitchell is enjoying something of a second season in his first campaign as a Padre.

A member of the Opening Day rotation, the 27-year-old, acquired from the Yankees last offseason, got off to a horrible start and was dispatched after only seven starts — Mitchell was 0-3 with a 6.47 ERA — to the bullpen. Among his seven starts over the season’s first five weeks was a three-inning outing against the Giants during which he gave up three runs on four hits and five walks with two strikeouts.

After losing his spot in the rotation, Mitchell had five appearances as the long man in the Padres’ bullpen, where he allowed 15 runs in 16 1/3 innings for an 8.27 ERA and a 2.08 WHIP. On June 20, Mitchell was placed on the 10-day disabled list with an elbow issue. Some thought he was done for the season.

But he was re-activated Sept. 3, and in two starts since has allowed two earned runs on six hits and five walks with four strikeouts in 11 innings in his second- and third-best outings of the season. He has a 1.64 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP since returning.

Meanwhile, the 26-year-old Suarez will make his 27th start of the season Monday night. This will be his third start of the season against the Padres — and his first at Petco Park. Suarez is 0-0 with a 2.13 ERA after the first two outings, allowing three earned runs in 12 2/3 innings.

Suarez has allowed 75 runs (70 earned) during his rookie season on 147 hits and 39 walks with 121 strikeouts in 145 1/3 innings. He has a .268 opponents’ batting average and a 1.29 WHIP. He is 2-6 on the road this season with a 5.73 ERA in 13 starts. He has a .311 opponents’ batting average on the road with a 1.58 WHIP.

Left-handed hitters are batting only .222 against Suarez while right-handers are hitting .284 with 21 homers. Much of the Padres power is from the right-handed side.