MLB: Looking for strong finish, Padres take on Diamondbacks

The San Diego Padres currently possess the National League’s third wild-card spot, but they continue to have trouble creating distance from the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Padres, who have dropped three of their past four games, aim to start a sprint to the finish when they face the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at Phoenix.

San Diego (78-65) stands two games ahead of the Brewers (76-67) after both clubs lost their Wednesday games. The Padres fell 6-1 to the Seattle Mariners for a split of the two-game set.

San Diego is 11-4 against Arizona, which presents an opportunity for the Padres to begin a difference-making burst.

“We’re going to need to make a little more of a sustained run here at some point in time in these last (19) games,” Padres manager Bob Melvin told reporters. “We’ve said this. We keep saying it.

“We feel like we have the pieces to do it. We just haven’t done it yet. It’s time to just quit talking about it. We have to do it. Hopefully, in this next series, it shows up.”

San Diego was predicted to battle Los Angeles for NL West supremacy but instead trails the Dodgers by 20 1/2 games.

Not having star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. — first because of a wrist injury, later due to a PED suspension — hurt the Padres’ chances of competing for the division crown.

But outfielder Juan Soto, acquired from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline, hasn’t been the difference-maker the club hoped.

Instead, Soto has been a huge disappointment and is mired in a 3-for-44 (.068) funk over his last 14 games. Overall, he is batting just .209 and slugging .330 in 34 games for San Diego. He has just three homers and seven RBIs.

The Diamondbacks (67-75) recorded a dramatic 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night, courtesy of Sergio Alcantara’s walk-off, three-run homer in the 10th inning. The homer was Alcantara’s fifth of the season and gave Arizona its second win in the past eight games.

“I was looking fastball,” Alcantara said with a grin in reference to the blast off Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel.

Said Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo: “We won a baseball game and it’ll push us to the next day. I want us to feel good about it.”

Arizona plans to recall prospect Drey Jameson from Triple-A Reno to start Thursday’s game.

The 25-year-old right-hander was a first-round pick in 2019 and is rated as the No. 9 prospect in the Diamondbacks’ organization by MLB Pipeline.

Jameson was just 5-12 with a 6.95 ERA in 21 starts and one relief appearance for Triple-A Reno this year, but he struck out 109 in 114 innings. He went 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA at Double-A Amarillo in four starts at the outset of the season.

Struggling left-hander Sean Manaea (7-8, 5.23 ERA) will take the mound for the Padres in the opener.

Manaea, 30, lost his last two starts and gave up 14 runs and 19 hits in 8 1/3 innings during the span. His next start was skipped and he pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the Dodgers on Saturday.

However, Manaea has been solid against the Diamondbacks in 2022, going 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts. He has allowed just 14 hits in 25 innings while striking out 23.

Manaea is 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA in seven career starts against Arizona. Carson Kelly (2-for-15) and Jordan Luplow (2-for-8) have each homered against him.

–Field Level Media

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