Padres, Diamondbacks want to escape basement
PHOENIX - Two teams whose postseason hopes disappeared months ago have some complicated goals as they head into the final two games of the season.
-- Take a good look at young players with an eye toward next season.
-- Win to avoid ending up in the National League West cellar.
That's the situation for the San Diego Padres (68-92) and Arizona Diamondbacks (67-93) on Saturday.
Padres manager Andy Green sees no conflict in the differing goals.
"These players we're looking at good, and they help us win baseball games," Green said.
The promising players include outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot and infielder Ryan Schimpf.
An example came in the ninth inning Friday when Renfroe came in as a pinch hitter and put together "a heck of an at-bat" that ended with a two-strike single to give the Padres a chance in what turned out to be a 5-3 loss.
In the end, Renfroe made a "youthful mistake" by getting thrown out at third by shortstop Chris Owings on ground ball to the left side.
All in all, though, "They are helping us win games," Green said. "They are not hurting us at all. We've played very good baseball since they've been here.
"It just means we have more of a shared time thing. But we are definitely competing to win these last two games."
Schimpf showed his power when he launched a 469-foot blast off the video board in center field.
"That ball was annihilated," Green said.
The homer was Schimpf's 20th of the season, an improbable feat considering he was only brought up July 1.
Schimpf seems to have surprised himself with his homer total.
"I don't know if it has really settled in yet. I'm just trying to constantly get better," he said.
Schimpf surely enjoys playing against Arizona; six of his 20 homers have been against the Diamondbacks.
Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale also is emphasizing the importance of finishing strong.
"I think it's very important for us to compete. The wins are important, obviously, that's what we play for, but just to compete to the end," Hale said. "We always tell guys to run through first base. It's very simple. We teach that in Little League, don't we? So we want to finish the season that way, run through the finish."
Certainly, both teams have the incentive of trying to avoid the division cellar.
"That's kind of what we're playing for here," Hale said, smiling.
The Diamondbacks are also looking at young players such as Socrates Brito and Mitch Haniger as well as more experienced ones, such as pitcher Patrick Corbin.
Corbin had a most disappointing season, dropping from his original spot as the No. 3 starter into the bullpen.
But he has had a strong end-of-season comeback, including his performance Friday, when he allowed only one baserunner in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
"He just feels like his stuff is back to where it was before (Tommy John) surgery. He got tremendous life up to 96 (mph) today," Hale said. "It's really good to finish this way. He'll fit right into our rotation the top two or three spots there next year."
The Diamondbacks, who started out horribly at home, have won six of last eight and are 14-10 at home since Aug. 5.