Red Sox-Padres preview
SAN DIEGO — Just after being named a late addition to the National League All-Star team in July, left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz talked about pitching at Petco Park in San Diego, which was hosting the All-Star Game.
“Who doesn't like pitching here?” Pomeranz said. “It's a beautiful ballpark. It's a great field that slightly favors a pitcher. The weather is as good as you can find in the major leagues. It's a great place to pitch.”
Of course, the 27-year-old was a Padre back then and was experiencing something of a breakthrough season.
He was 8-7 in 17 starts at the All-Star break with a 2.47 ERA that ranked among the top 10 in the National League. He had 115 strikeouts in 102 innings with a .184 opponents' batting average. He was 4-3 with a 2.64 ERA in eight starts at Petco Park.
As he prepared for his first All-Star appearance, Pomeranz was looking forward to the second half of the season.
Then, at the end of the All-Star break, Pomeranz was traded by the Padres to the Boston Red Sox for right-handed pitcher, Anderson Espinosa, who immediately became the top-rated prospect in the San Diego organization.
Pomeranz wasn't done with Petco Park, though. On Monday afternoon, he will make his ninth start of the season at Petco Park — this time pitching for the Red Sox.
Coincidentally, Pomeranz will be matched against the pitcher — right-hander Edwin Jackson — whom the Padres tabbed to take his place in the rotation.
Pomeranz is 2-3 with a 4.06 ERA in nine starts since joining the Red Sox.
Jackson is 3-4 with a 6.34 ERA in eight starts with the Padres after going 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in eight relief outings for the Miami Marlins earlier this year. The 32-year-old veteran is 0-3 over his past three starts while giving up 18 runs on 23 hits (including four homers) in just 11 2/3 innings.
Other than Pomeranz and Jackson, there are few parallels between the Red Sox and the Padres.
A 1-0 loss to the A's in Oakland on Sunday dropped the Red Sox (76-70) a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays (77-59) at the top of the three-way battle for the American League East title. The Baltimore Orioles (74-62) sit two games behind the Red Sox.
Meanwhile, the Padres (56-80) slipped back into fifth place in the National League West during a 3-6 road trip. They lost 7-4 to the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Sunday.
While the Red Sox are playing to reach the playoffs, the Padres are playing to avoid one of the worst seasons in franchise history. San Diego is
18-29 since the All-Star break — although it finishes the season with 17 of its final 26 games at home after three straight long trips to the Eastern time zone.
Half the Padres' remaining games are against Boston, the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, teams needing wins to reach the playoffs.
“The goal is to play hard and finish strong,” first-year Padres manager Andy Green said recently. “This is an opportunity. We're going to be looking at a lot of new players with an eye on next season.”
However, the focus for the next three days will be more on the Red Sox than the Padres. Red Sox banners began popping up on establishments around Petco Park over the weekend. A number of fans adorned in Boston attire could be seen walking through San Diego's famed Gaslamp District even before the Red Sox arrived in town.
“We planned this vacation for a year,” Greg Oliver of Boston said Sunday as he walked outside of Petco Park. “We've spent a week here and will see the three Red Sox wins before returning home. We're hoping we can make this feel like a home game.”
Certainly Pomeranz will feel as if he is home.