As the Padres and Cubs prepared to open a three-game series at Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon, San Diego led the National League West and Chicago was second in the N.L. Central.
Going into Tuesday’s second game, the Cubs lead the Central and the Padres are second in the West.
“It’s repeatedall the time, but every game counts,” Cubs manager David Ross said recently. “You never know when you might look back on a game in April and May and think, ‘if that had turned out differently …’ “
The Cubs’ rode the long ball to a 7-2 win over the Padres, the Dodgers defeated the Cardinals and the Giants beat the Angels.
Battling for their division leads is not the only thing the Padres and Cubs have in common.
Both teams won 19 games in May and have been on hot streaks. The Cubs are 7-1 over their last eight games and 12-3 over the last 15. Even with Monday’s loss — which gave San Diego back-to-back losses for the first time since May 7-8 — the Padres are 16-5 over the past 21 games.
The teams also have the stingiest bullpens in the National League.
And both have had a rash of recent injuries, although the Padres, who have been missing at least one starting position player (and up to four) for 20 straight games, are expected to get center fielder Trent Grisham (bruised heel) back from the injured list Tuesday.
Game 2 in the series will feature an interesting pitching matchup — Padres rookie left-hander Ryan Weathers (2-1, 1.31 ERA) paired against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (5-4, 4.63 ERA).
The 21-year-old Weathers is part of a six-man rotation Padres manager Jayce Tingler is trying during a stretch of games on 20 straight days with one day off in a 34-day run. However, Tingler had to piggy-back two starters (Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove) in one game Sunday because the Padres had played a franchise-record four straight extra-inning games along with the fact that Padres starters not named Yu Darvish and Musgrove haven’t been getting very deep into games.
“I don’t know on the return to the six-man rotation yet,” Tingler said Monday. “I’d love to go back to it. We have to wait and see how the next couple games go and see overall where our starting and relief pitching is holding up. The next four are Chris Paddack (Monday’s starter), Weathers, Dinelson Lamet and Darvish when we get home. Today, we want Paddack to set the tone and give us a little momentum.”
But Paddack gave up five runs on three homers and lasted just 4 1/3 innings. Weathers has pitched exactly four innings in each of his three starts since rejoining the rotation. Lamet hasn’t gone more than three innings in an outing this season. Snell didn’t reach the fourth in either of his last two outings.
It’s more like a two-man rotation and four bullpen starts.
Weathers, who will be facing the Cubs for the first time, has allowed three runs on 11 hits and four walks with seven strikeouts in 12 innings over his last three starts. Over Hendricks’ last three starts, the veteran has allowed seven runs (five earned) on 21 hits and a single walk with 17 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings — for a 2.08 ERA and a 1.015 WHIP.
Hendricks has a 6-2 record in 10 career starts against the Padres with a 2.86 ERA, a 0.937 WHIP and a .219 opponents’ batting average.
–Field Level Media