When Clay Hensley went on the disabled list earlier this month, San Diego recalled Justin Germano to take his spot in the rotation. Given Germano’s success since then, the Padres may find it hard to send him back to the minors.
Germano looks to put together another strong start for the Padres (27-21) as they play host to the Milwaukee Brewers in the middle game of their weekend set on Saturday night.
Germano (2-0, 0.47 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Portland on May 8, four days after Hensley was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right groin. Germano has made three starts and allowed two runs and 12 hits in 19 innings.
The right-hander was 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five starts for the Beavers. Hensley, meanwhile, is on an injury rehab assignment with Portland.
After holding St. Louis to three hits over seven innings en route to a 3-0 win on May 13, Germano gave up one unearned run and six hits in six innings of a 2-1 victory over Seattle a week later.
“He has the ability to throw strikes,” San Diego manager Bud Black said. “He’s locating. He’s changing speeds to affect the hitters’ timing. Then you add the movement on his fastball and that equates to success.”
While pitching last year with Cincinnati, Germano fared poorly in his only career start against the Brewers, giving up four runs and a career-high eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-3 loss on July 29.
This time, Germano will be opposed by Claudio Vargas (3-0, 3.68), who will try to end a streak of three straight no-decisions for Milwaukee (28-20). The right-hander is coming off his worst outing of the season in which he allowed five runs and six walks over four innings of a 6-5 win over Minnesota on Sunday.
Playing for Arizona last year, Vargas won both his starts in San Diego, giving up one run and seven hits in 14 innings for a 0.64 ERA.
San Diego won the series opener, getting a grand slam from rookie Kevin Kouzmanoff in an 8-6 win on Friday night. Kouzmanoff was batting .137 on May 15, but has gone on an eight-game hitting streak to raise his batting average 80 points to .217.
During his streak, Kouzmanoff is hitting .520 (13-for-25) with three homers and 12 RBIs. All three of his homers have come in the last four games.
San Diego, though, may be without all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, who didn’t pitch Friday and said his arm was sore after appearing in three of the previous four games.
“It’s kind of day-to-day,” said the 39-year-old Hoffman, who is five saves shy of 500. “I’m not going to concern myself too much with it other than the fact of it coming on the heels of three out of four and it’s a little cranky. When you get to this age, you never really know where the pain’s coming from.”
Scott Linebrink served as the Padres’ closer on Friday, retiring all three hitters for his first save.
Highly touted rookie Ryan Braun made his major league debut at third base for Milwaukee and had an RBI double and a sacrifice fly. Braun, the Brewers first-round draft pick in 2005 from Miami, was hitting .342 with 10 homers in 34 games this season with Triple-A Nashville before being recalled.