San Diego Padres (59-89) at SF Giants (90-57)

The Giants have it in cruise control, and why not? They have a 10.5 game advantage over the Dodgers in the NL West, and the only thing worth playing for at this point is home field advantage in the playoffs. The Padres flashed back to May with 3 losses to the Dodgers over the weekend.

Game One

RHP Brian Lawrence (8-15, 4.37) and LHP Kirk Reuter (8-5, 4.82)

BLaw had his worst outing since July. When he gave up a home run to Durham to start the game, Padre fans knew the team was in for a long night. BLaw had not given up a dinger since July and when he gives up the long ball it is a sure sign that he is leaving the ball up in the zone. He had indicated that his arm was a bit fatigued as he leads the Padres in IP with 191.1 and while some pitchers indicate they get more sink when tired, BLaw has said that he is leaving the ball up.

It does not matter how bad Reuter may be going at any given time, when he faces the Padres he turns invincible. If you watch him pitch, many would wonder how he does it. His fastball tops out at 88 with a tailwind and is straight. The only thing that saves him is his breaking stuff. Reuter has to live on the corners. The Padres hitters need to show patience; force him to get the calls, if he does not, make him put the ball in there.

Game Two

RHP Adam Eaton (8-10, 4.17) and RHP Jerome Williams (6-4, 3.42)

Eaton pitched a quality game against these same Giants his last time out allowing only 3 runs in 7 IP. Eaton has shown tremendous poise as he will throw any pitch on any count. If there is a flaw to Eaton's game it is he does not finish. He has the stuff to go for the out in favorable counts, but often will be too fine and take a 1-2 or 0-2 count to 3-2.

Williams pitched well his last time out allowing only 2 earned runs in 6 IP. Of course, one of my favorite moments of the season was watching Williams roll his eyes when Barry Bonds dropped a foul ball. Not that Barry cares mind you, but it was still funny. Williams throws hard but does not seem overpowering. He does not throw anything that bores in on the hands, and allows the hitters to put it in play.

Game Three

LHP Mike Bynum (0-2, 8.22) and RHP Jason Schmidt (15-5, 2.28)

Kevin Jarvis appears to be shelved with elbow soreness for at least one start; and with Scott Linebrink experiencing swelling and soreness in his knee, Bynum gets the nod. Bynum really is a one trick pony at this stage in his career with his only plus pitch being a tremendous slider. When the slider does not slide or he throws his unremarkable fastball, things can get ugly, as witnessed by 11 HRs allowed in 23 IP. One word, yikes.

Schmidt has put together a dominating season. If he gets a couple of decisions, people are probably talking about Cy Young and Schmidt in the same breath. I counted 4 no decisions that should have been wins as he allowed 2 runs or less. At 19-5, people would not give too many votes to Eric Gagne. The Padres can expect to see low to mid 90s fastballs with tremendous movement, combine that with a hard slider and he can be nearly impossible to hit.

Game Four

RHP Jake Peavy (11-11, 4.21) and RHP Sidney Ponson (17-10, 3.66)

Peavy had a rough time against the Dodgers giving up 4 runs in 4 IP. The long ball has really hurt him and he needs to minimize that against the Giants. If he can keep them in the yard things become a lot easier for him. Like Eaton, Peavy is getting to fine and not being aggressive in the zone leading to a lot of unnecessary pitches and short outings.

Sir Sidney has gone 3-4 with 3.38 ERA since joining the Giants. Ponson has taken a number of tough luck losses considering his ERA is nearly half a run lower than it was with the Orioles. Ponson would rather hitters beat the ball into the ground and rely on his defense than strike guys out.

Hitters to Watch

Brian Giles continues to hit and get on base at good clip and has most Padre fans excited about the 2004 season. Granted, most fans are excited about the opening of Petco Park. When you consider opening the season with Burroughs, Loretta, Giles, Nevin, Klesko, and Kotsay it is hard not to smile. When does Spring Training start?!?

Edgardo Alfonzo has hit .375 in his last 6 games with 4 HR and 11 RBI. While he has been hot of late, Fonzie has had a disappointing season. To give you an idea how bad his season has gone the 4 HRs nearly doubled his total for the season and the 11 RBI comprise 15 percent of his total. Padre fans are ecstatic that the Giants outbid us for his services to the tune of 4 years/ 26 million dollars. It makes me love Mark Loretta all the more.

Other Notes

In a lost season, the Padres need only 4 more victories to prevent the indignity of a 100 loss season. When you only win 6 games in May, preventing 100 losses seemed unlikely. The Padres should have an interesting off season. They have six players that are arbitration eligible (Adam Eaton, Gary Matthews, Jr., Brian Buchanan, Gary Bennett, Mike Matthews, and Luther Hackman). They also have two players that will be free agents (Rod Beck and Keith Lockhart) and one with a club option (Trevor Hoffman). It will be interesting to see how things play out. I would bet my season tickets in Petco that the club avoids arbitration with Adam Eaton and get him signed to a 3 year deal with a club option.

Felipe Alou should give Bonds some time off. Bonds usually rakes in Qualcomm and he just looked flat. The guy looks exhausted. Alou needs to forget about Bonds passing Mays and needs to sit Bonds so he will be ready for the playoffs.

Kim Lewis can be reached at geckointhebox@yahoo.com

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