Padres look to even series in Sunday matinee with Nationals
SAN DIEGO -- For the first two months of the season, the San Diego Padres ranked at the bottom of most major league offensive categories.
But since the start of June, the Padres have the second leading batting average in the National League and rank among the leaders in home runs and runs scored.
"I really believe hitting is contagious," said first baseman Wil Myers, who has led the offensive charge with nine homers in 17 games thus far in June.
Myers, who bats second in the order, credits leadoff man Jon Jay for the Padres' change of offensive fortunes.
"Ever since he went 9-for-10 in those back-to-back games, we've taken off," Myers said. "He got me started. I think what the leadoff hitter does affects the entire team."
Well, Jay is hitting .366 in June to Myers' .373.
But there is a problem. The Padres' pitching has been terrible in June and has sprung some serious leaks in the first three games against the Washington Nationals at Petco Park.
In the Thursday opener, the Nationals hit three homers on two-strike pitches. In six different innings after an inning when the Padres scored, the Nationals scored. And half of the 18 runs scored by the Nationals in the first three games came in rallies started when Padres pitchers retired the first two hitters.
"Those are problems," Padres manager Andy Green said. "You can't have that keep happening."
Green said that when the Padres were facing the possibility of being swept in the four-game series against the National League East leaders. But after Saturday night's come-from-behind, 7-3 win, the Padres have a chance gain a split in Sunday's series finale -- no small feat given the fact that the Padres are a "perfect" 0-10 on Sundays thus far this season.
This Sunday, it will be left-hander Drew Pomeranz (5-7, 2.88 ERA) pitching for the Padres against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez (3-5, 3.96).
Neither is at his sharpest.
Gonzalez hasn't won a game since May 2. In four straight losses, he has allowed 21 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings.
"I'm battling right now," Gonzalez said. "Everyone goes through stretches like this."
And Pomeranz has seen his ERA shoot up more than a run from 1.80 in his last six starts. In his most recent outing, he allowed five runs, five hits and five walks in five innings. In his last six starts, he has given up 16 runs and 27 hits in 35 innings.
"Hitters have changed the way they face me," Pomeranz said. "They've been laying off some really good pitches at the bottom of the zone. "It's time for me to adjust."
Today's game will end a seven-game homestand for the Padres. The Nationals bus to Los Angeles after the game to continue a 10-game road trip at Dodger Stadium.
"The Nationals are one of the best teams in the game right now and we've played them tough the first three games of this series," Myers said. "We were in the first two games we lost and had a good game tonight. It'd be great to close split this series before hitting the road."
And winning on a Sunday ... finally.