Diamondbacks (70-67) at San Diego Padres (55-82)

Ben Howard gets game one start for the Padres

The D'backs are reeling, as they have only won 3 games in their last 10. They are now 4 games back in the Wild Card race. While they have not been mathematically eliminated, they have to feel it is necessary to right the ship or they will be golfing in October. The Padres are winners of 4 straight series, but they will have to sweep to maintain the streak.

Game One

RHP Ben Howard (0-0, 5.68) and LHP Chris Capuano (1-2, 5.40)

This is Howard's second start of the season and, thanks to the unbalanced schedule, it will be his second start against Arizona. Howard, as most Padre fans are aware, took the spot vacated in the rotation by Oliver Perez. It was not pretty, as Howard allowed 4 runs in the first 4 innings, but he was able to go 6 1/3 and the Padres were able to rally to win the game.

Capuano's last major league start was a win against the Padres on July 9th. The Padres' hitters made him look like a Cy Young award winner that night as the only run was unearned and he K'd 8 over 7 IP. He was just recently recalled to pitch in Elmer Dessens spot. Dessens pitched two innings of relief on Sunday, and would not be available to start in his normal turn. Of course, Bob Brenly knows that the Padres have absolutely torched Dessens this season, and he is hoping that Capuano can bring some of his July magic with him in September.

Game Two

RHP Brian Lawrence (7-14, 4.44) and RHP Miguel Batista (9-7, 3.00)

BLaw had a terrific August. He was 2-1 with a 2.54 ERA. More importantly he gave his team a chance to win in each of his starts. In his last start, BLaw went 7 2/3 giving up only 2 runs against the D'backs. The unbalanced schedule can be a disadvantage to pitchers, especially finesse pitchers like BLaw. If BLaw can avoid pitching to Steve Finley (.500, 3 HR, 8 RBI), beating Arizona will become a much easier task.

Batista had to go through 6 different organizations before finding a home in Arizona. Even in Arizona, Batista has been shuttled back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, but he seems to have nailed down a starting role for the foreseeable future. He has been one of Arizona's more reliable starters this season, and that says a lot when you have Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling on this staff. He was a bit more hittable in August, as he had .290 batting average against. Batista's biggest weakness is that he can be a bit of a "nibbler". He gets too fine, will go deep in counts, and because of this, rarely goes beyond the 6th inning. Mark Kotsay and Ryan Klesko both have decent career lines against Batista.

Hitters to watch

Sean Burroughs was hitting .190 on May 1st. As of September 1st, he was hitting .298 with an 11 game hitting streak. For those of you out there that thought this young man was all hype, how do you take your crow? By the way, if you make the roadie up to Los Angeles on September 12th, you can wish Sean a happy 23rd birthday.

Luis Gonzalez is the hitter to watch. If for no other reason than I close my eyes every time a certain Arizona centerfielder comes to bat.

Other Notes

This will mark the first time that Brian Giles will be wearing a Padres uniform at home. The former Granite Hills High star and current Poway resident will get to enjoy a lot of home cooking from now on. September call-ups are an exciting time for fans and young players alike. Be sure to get out to the "Q" to see future Padres stars in person.

Kim Lewis can be reached at geckointhebox@yahoo.com

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