Jake Peavy on the hill in game one for the Padres
Cincinnati Reds (51-63) at San Diego Padres (44-72)
Not exactly the clash of the titans, as both teams are well below .500. Both teams play with a lot pride, so the games should be hotly contested.
RHP Jake Peavy (9-8, 4.43) and LHP John Bale (0-0, 4.50)
Peavy struggled through July. He did not record a “W” in the month, and he saw his overall ERA go up nearly a point. If August continues as it started, it is going to be a great month for Peavy, as he went 7 innings gave up no earned runs on 2 hits. With mid-90s gas, slider, change, cutter, and sinker, Jake should make it a tough task for Reds hitters.
John Bale gets the spot start. None of the Padres have ever faced Bale, so patience is the key. Bale has been a reliever, so the Reds do not expect him to go more than 3-4 innings. This game can set up the entire series. The Padres need to show patience, get to the bully even earlier than expected, the more relievers our guys see the better. Wear them down.
LHP Oliver Perez (4-4, 4.98) and RHP Aaron Harang (1-3. 5.34 with Oakland)
When Oliver Perez was sent down to AAA Portland his ERA was up over 8, since his return we have seen a steady decline. The key for Perez is to minimize his walks. When his is on, he can flat dominate. His last three appearances, Perez has posted an ERA of 2.37. Some of the best left-handed hitters in baseball often will get a day off when he takes the hill. This is high praise for the 21 year old native of Culiacan, Mexico and probably one of the reasons Kevin Towers is reluctant to include him in a deal for superstar LF Brian Giles.
Aaron Harang is a San Diego native, drafted out of San Diego State by the Oakland A’s. He had a bit of a rough time as a starter with the A’s this season. He was part of the compensation that brought Reds OF Jose Guillen to the A’s. He is not overpowering, as his fastball tops out at 92, but he uses a good slider and change to strike guys out. As the Padres have never faced Harang, he has an advantage. However, after facing the stuff of Prior, Wood, and Zambrano, I am sure the Padres hitters are looking forward to facing a “normal” pitcher.
RHP Brian Lawrence (5-14, 4.73) and RHP Danny Graves (4-12, 5.34)
BLaw was a tough luck loser his last time out after giving up only 1 run in 6 IP to the Cubs on Tuesday. The good news Padres’ fans is that BLaw had his good slider working in that game. However, you can tell he still does not have his confidence back, as he was tentative with 0-2 counts. So much so that he would often take the count full, before getting the out.
Graves has been having a rough season. He has pitched better of late, posting a 3.86 ERA over his last 3 starts. He can be susceptible to giving up the long ball, as he has given up 26 HRs so far this year. He does not strike out a lot of guys and he has walked almost as many as he has struck out. The Padres hitters should be able to put it in play.
Batters to watch:
Mark Loretta is having a career year as a Padre, hitting .321, with 7 HR and 51 RBI. He also has been hitting a cool .364 with RISP
Adam Dunn has not been hot, but the guy can flat mash. When he makes contact, look out.
D’Angelo Jimenez, or as I overheard one young fan call him, De-An-Jell-O, returns to the “Q”, after blasting the clubhouse leadership of the Padres, something that both Ryan Klesko and Phil Nevin took offense to. Has there been a softer player in a Padre uniform with as much potential as Jimenez since Ruben Rivera?!? I think not. Well, you got to give Jimenez one thing, at least he has not stolen any of his teammates gear…yet.
Kim Lewis can be reached at email@example.com