San Diego Padres (51-80) at D-Backs (68-62)

Arizona is 2 ½ games back in the wild card race and the Padres need to win 12 games out of the remaining 31 to avoid the dreaded 100 loss season.

Game One

RHP Jake Peavy (9-9, 4.06) and LHP Randy Johnson (3-6, 4.90)

Peavy has been hit pretty hard in the past by the Arizona Diamondbacks (1-4, 11.08 with 8 HRs). However, Jake has been outstanding in August posting a 1.27 ERA and hitters are hitting .178 off him. It recently came to light that Peavy's wife Katie had been hospitalized with viral meningitis, yet he still took the ball and pitched 7 shutout innings. Keep a close eye on this young pitcher Padres' fans.

You have to go back to 1992 to find the last season where Randy Johnson finished the season below .500 and you would have to go back to his rookie year in 1989 to find his ERA above 4. In a season marred by injuries to the 39 year old left hander, he just has not pitched like the winner of 5 Cy Young awards (just ask bitter fantasy baseball players). However, with the Padres offense being downright offensive, it might be exactly what Johnson needs to get back on the beam.

Game Two

LHP Oliver Perez (4-7, 5.38) and RHP Elmer Dessens (7-7, 4.93)

Perez has all the tools, but he is still learning how to pitch and not just throw. In his last outing, he was two pitches away from throwing at least 7 shut out innings. Perez has a tremendous change-up, but he does not seem to trust it, especially early in the game. Ty Wigginton was sitting dead red on a 0-1 count and Ollie throws a 94 mph heater right down the heart of the plate and there was nothing left but a vapor trail. He throws a change right there and it takes guys with shovels to dig Wigginton out.

Padres' hitters are licking their chops to get another opportunity to face Dessens. The Padres have faced Dessens three times this season and he has given up a total of 18 earned runs. Ryan Klesko loves to face Dessens (.400, 2 HR, 6 RBI). If any pitcher can break Ryno out of his month-long slump it is Dessens.

Game Three

RHP Brian Lawrence (6-14, 4.54) and RHP Curt Schilling (7-7, 2.60)

BLaw has one complete game this season, and it was at the BOB. He allowed only one run in a victory for the Padres. After overcoming trying couple innings against the Expos, BLaw settled in and gave the Padres a chance to win. BLaw has posted a 2.59 ERA in August and by most accounts looks like the BLaw fans have come to expect.

Curt Schilling is one of baseball's best pitchers and best students of the game. Honestly, though, why a guy with a 2.60 ERA would whine about QuesTec is beyond me. Schilling has been bothered by an achy knee recently but that has not slowed him, as he K'd 14 in his last outing.

Batters to Watch

Mark Loretta is mired in a bit of a slump as he has gone 3 for his last 21. Bruce Bochy gave Loretta a well-deserved day off on Sunday. Hopefully the rest will help him get back on track.

Steve Finley is still a popular guy in San Diego. Apparently Fins would rather face us than any other team in the league. He is hitting .467 with 4 HRs and 12 RBIs. I love you Fins, but a Padres pitcher needs to go inside and make you move. I am of the opinion that if a guy hits you hard you do not allow him to pitch a tent in the batter's box. While I am not trying to compare Finley to Barry Bonds, how is it a guy like Bonds that hangs way over the plate gets hit by the pitch less than 10 times a year?

Other Notes

The Padres have won 4 of their last 6 games. The troubling part is that relief pitchers have got the "W" all four times. It is not because the starter is not going deep in the game, it is the inability to score runs early in the game. The Padres have had an especially difficult time lately getting the guy in from 3rd with less than 2 out. Call me a traditionalist, but the only thing more disturbing about the D-Backs than watching Craig Counsell bat, is the gold lamé "D" on their road caps.

Kim Lewis can be reached at geckointhebox@yahoo.com

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