It’s too early in the season to know whether it’s the San Diego Padres’ pitching or the Arizona Diamondbacks’ hitters.
But rival managers Bob Melvin of the Padres and Torey Lovullo agree on one thing — Padres pitchers have had the edge over the Diamondbacks going into Sunday afternoon’s finale of a season-opening, four-game series at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Through the first three games, the Diamondbacks have scored six runs on 10 hits. They had five hits Saturday night in a 5-2 loss – matching the number of hits they had in the first two games. They won the season opener 4-2 on Seth Beer’s walk-off homer in the ninth – which was only the Diamondbacks’ third hit of the game.
“We got to their starter a little tonight,” Lovullo said Saturday after the Padres first two starters (Yu Darvish and Sean Manaea) pitched 13 innings of hitless ball as the Diamondbacks went 0-for-39.
Arizona’s David Peralta actually got to Padres starter Joe Musgrove on Saturday. He had a RBI double and game-tying solo homer. The rest of the Diamondbacks were 3-for-19 against Musgrove. Overall, however, Arizona is 10-for-86 (.116) in the season’s first three games.
Sunday, the Padres go for a third straight win and a series victory, sending former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell against Arizona’s Caleb Smith in a matchup of left-handers.
Snell might be a welcome sight for the Diamondbacks. He was behind the Padres other starters in spring training and piggybacked most of his appearances with Chris Paddack, who was traded to the Brewers on Opening Day. While the first three Padres starters each went at least six innings, Snell might go only four or five innings on Sunday.
“Blake was behind some of the other starters in spring training,” Melvin said. “But Blake is pretty good about knowing what he can do and what he can’t.”
Snell finished strong last season (3-2 with a 1.83 ERA over his final eight starts) to post a 7-6 record with a 4.20 ERA in 27 starts. But he missed time due to a non-COVID illness and an injury.
Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Smith was 4-9 last season with a 4.83 ERA and only 13 of his 45 appearances came as a starter. But he earned a spot in Arizona’s rotation with a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings this spring.
“It wasn’t that he defaulted into this position,” Lovullo said of Smith. “He went out and did everything he was supposed to do. We feel like he’s got the track record. He’s done it before and it’s just a matter of going out and being consistent and making the most of the opportunity.”
After Saturday’s win, Melvin noted the Padres had three milestone events Saturday night. Relief pitcher Steven Wilson got his first win in his major league debut. And C.J. Abrams and outfielder Jose Azocar both got their first hit in the big leagues.
“One of the great things about our game are milestone moments,” Melvin said. “You can’t lose sight of how big a night it was for those guys.”
–Field Level Media