Padres look to continue success against Giants

SAN DIEGO — The San Francisco Giants owned the San Diego Padres through the first half of the 2016 season. San Francisco beat the Padres nine straight times before the All-Star break.

Since then, however, the tables have turned. The Padres are 20-9 against San Francisco over the last 1 1/2 seasons. Their 12-7 advantage over the Giants in 2017 was a major reason why the Padres finished fourth in the National League West standings with San Francisco coming in last.

On Thursday night at Petco Park, the teams play the first of their 19 meetings this season as the Padres open a seven-game homestand against their California rivals. After four games with San Francisco, the Padres host the Los Angeles Dodgers for three.

The opener of the Giants series matches a pair of right-handers with little experience against the other team.

In fact, Padres starter Bryan Mitchell (0-1, 4.22 ERA) will be facing San Francisco for the first time. Giants starter Chris Stratton (0-1, 4.35) will be making his third appearance and second start against the Padres.

Mitchell, who turns 27 on April 19, will be making his third start for San Diego. Mitchell was the pitcher the Padres wanted last Dec. 12 when they agreed to a trade that included taking on third baseman Chase Headley’s $13 million contract from the New York Yankees.

After a rough spring and a poor first start, Mitchell found his stride last Saturday against the world champion Astros in Houston. He allowed no runs, three hits and six walks with one strikeout over 5 2/3 innings. In his first start for the Padres, Mitchell allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks in five innings against the Colorado Rockies in his Petco Park debut.

Mitchell has issued nine walks while striking out only one in 10 2/3 innings.

“Mitchell’s strikeouts are down, yes,” said San Diego manager Andy Green after Mitchell’s second start. “I’d like to see the walks down. I was very pleased with his last outing because he was driving fastballs down in the zone and he was getting weak contact against a very good lineup (Houston).

“The strikeouts are going to come back for him. He has too good stuff not to punch guys out at times, but as long as he’s driving that fastball down in the zone he’s going to have some success.”

Stratton, 27, was the Giants’ first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2012 draft out of Mississippi State.

Stratton has made two starts this season and his second start was moved twice. He was originally scheduled to face the Dodgers last Saturday. That was pushed back to Sunday, then returned to Saturday.

In that game, Stratton gave up three runs (two earned) and four hits while striking out three and walking four. He did not get a decision in the Giants’ 7-5 victory.

The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Stratton has a 1-1 record career record against San Diego with a 6.43 ERA in two games (one start). The Padres have scored seven runs off Stratton on 11 hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in 11 innings. Thursday will be his first career appearance at Petco Park.