Padres return home for quick 2-game series against Athletics
SAN DIEGO — You could call it a homestand. But for the Padres, it’s a chance to get a fresh set of clothes before hitting the road again.
The Padres return from a 10-game road trip Tuesday to host the Oakland A’s for two games at Petco Park before hitting the road again for seven more road games until they come back home on June 29.
“We’ll learn a lot about ourselves in June,” Padres manager Andy Green said before departing San Diego for the first 10 games, which the Padres split.
The Padres are expected to send rookie left-hander Eric Lauer (3-4, 6.20 ERA) Tuesday night to face Oakland right-hander Paul Blackburn (1-1, 11.05) in a match of former first-round draft picks.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Blackburn, 24, was the 56th overall pick of the Chicago Cubs as a supplemental pick in the 2012 draft. The 6-foot-3, 227-pound Lauer, 22, was the 25th overall pick of the Padres in the 2016 draft.
Lauer and Blackburn will be facing the other team for the first time in their brief major league careers.
Lauer will be making his 11th start, with all coming this season, and tis will be Blackburn’s 13th start. He was 3-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 10 starts last year and is 4-2 overall with a 4.09 ERA.
Blackburn was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list on June 7 after being out since spring training with a right forearm strain. He was 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in six games, including three starts, this spring before being placed on the 10-day disabled list March 28. He was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on April 5. He was activated after one rehab start.
Blackburn was the losing pitcher in his last start, a 13-5 A’s loss to Houston in Oakland. He gave up eight runs, eight hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings.
Lauer has lowered his ERA in four of his last five starts. During that span, he has allowed 12 runs, 32 hits and 11 walks with 22 strikeouts in 24 innings for a 4.50 ERA. Before that, Lauer had an 8.14 ERA after his first five starts.
He has blown hot-and-cold in his last five starts. On May 28, he allowed five runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings. Two starts ago, he issued seven walks in five innings. He didn’t walk a hitter in his most recent start.
“Lauer has to trust his fastball,” Green said recently. “It’s had better carry, better life in his past two starts than it had earlier in the year. He’s attacking better with it. Those are positives. The fastball is his main weapon. But he’s dropped in some off-speed pitches that have kept people off balance.
“His velocity has been up a little bit. He’s done a nice job preparing himself for those starts. Those are probably the biggest things I’ve seen. He’s still searching for that secondary pitch he can rely on consistently. I think when he finds that, he’s going to turn the corner and move really quickly.”