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Double deja vu: Another pitching rematch for Padres, Nats

Sportsnaut
Aug 14, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in as many nights, the San Diego Padres and visiting Washington Nationals will meet Friday night with a repeat pitching matchup from a game played less than a week ago in the nation’s capital.

On Thursday, the Nationals’ Anibal Sanchez and the Padres’ Yu Darvish had a rematch, and for the second straight time, Washington won the game.

On Friday in San Diego, the matchup will pit Nationals right-hander Paolo Espino (0-5, 4.20 ERA) against Padres left-hander Blake Snell (5-6, 3.66).

When Espino and Snell faced off on Sunday in D.C., San Diego prevailed 6-0.

The Padres need a repeat of that game. Their lead for the last of three National League wild-card berths is down to a game over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The problem for the Padres is unchanged. Even though they’ve added Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury, their offense has fallen into a pattern of exploding in some games and shutting down in others.

In a 3-1 loss to the Nationals on Thursday, San Diego got its only run on Manny Machado’s 22nd homer. The Padres managed only three hits, and when they loaded the bases in the seventh with one out and the score tied, both Trent Grisham and Soto struck out.

The Padres stranded seven runners — four in scoring position — in the last four innings.

“It’s been a theme,” San Diego manager Bob Melvin said. “We had a chance to break it open with the bases loaded and it didn’t happen. There’s still a lot of games to be played, and I’m confident we’ll be successful.”

Meantime, Nationals manager Dave Martinez noted that he is eager to break away from a “Groundhog Day” section of the schedule. The Nationals have four wins and six losses through the majority of a 13-game run in which they are playing only the Chicago Cubs and the Padres.

“We’re looking forward to playing Seattle next week,” Martinez said before the series opener against San Diego.

Friday could present a bad case of deja vu for the Nationals.

On Sunday in Washington, Snell shut out the Nationals on three hits and no walks with 10 strikeouts over six innings. It was the latest in a string of strong outings by the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner.

Since the All-Star break, Snell is 4-1 with an 0.94 ERA in five starts. During that span, he has allowed three runs on 21 hits and five walks with 39 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings. Over his past eight starts, Snell has lowered his ERA from 5.60 to 3.66.

“I don’t know if Blake knows how good his stuff is,” Melvin said recently. “He could tell hitters what’s coming and they couldn’t hit it.”

Meantime, Espino is in the Nationals’ rotation due to injuries.

“Injuries have hit us hard,” Martinez said. “We’ve had to plug holes in the rotation.”

Espino is set to make his 13th start and 33rd appearance of the season. He has a .277 opponents’ batting average and has given up 90 hits in 81 1/3 innings.

As a reliever, Espino has no decisions and a 2.03 ERA. As a starter, he is 0-5 with a 5.27 ERA and a .299 opponents’ batting average.

In his lone career start against the Padres, Espino gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings on Sunday. For his career against San Diego, he is 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA in two games.

–Field Level Media