Padilla will try to show them his good side in his first start against his former team as he leads the Texas Rangers into the middle game of their series with the slumping Phillies on Saturday.
The Phillies originally acquired Padilla (10-3, 3.74 ERA) before the 2000 trade deadline in the deal that sent Curt Schilling to the Arizona Diamondbacks. After an injury-plagued 2001 as a reliever, the right-hander spent four years in the Phillies rotation—compiling a 44-42 overall record—but he went 16-19 from 2004-05.
He spent stints on the disabled list each of his last two years in Philadelphia, which finally traded him to Texas in December 2005 for Ricardo Rodriguez, who never pitched in the majors.
When healthy—like he was in 2006—Padilla delivers both wins and innings, posting a career-high 15 victories and logging 200 innings, the latter accomplished in his first two seasons in Philadelphia’s rotation. Last year, Padilla again dealt with arm injuries and went 6-10 with a career-worst 5.76 ERA.
Padilla is healthy again this year, and it shows. He has won his last three starts and eight of his last nine decisions. Padilla allowed three runs in seven innings of a 5-3 victory at Washington on Sunday, increasing his chances of being selected to the American League All-Star team.
“He belongs (on the All-Star team),” Rangers manager Ron Washington told the team’s official Web site. “He’s given us everything we’ve asked from him from Day 1 of spring training. He stays out there and keeps hanging in there. He knows if he hangs in there and gives your team a chance, you’ll be rewarded.”
Padilla will try to move the Rangers (41-40) a season-high two games over .500.
Texas hit the halfway point with a winning record following Friday’s 8-7 victory. Milton Bradley and Chris Davis each hit home runs, the latter hitting his first in the majors and earning praise from the veteran Bradley, who leads the AL in hitting at .330.
“He’s got stupid pop, opposite-field pop,” said Bradley, whose homer snapped a 6-all tie. “He got that pitch tonight, and he hit it out like it was nothing. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.”
After Padilla was shipped out, Cole Hamels (7-5, 3.27) stepped into the void and has evolved into Philadelphia’s staff ace. The left-hander is 31-18 since cracking the rotation in 2006, but has struggled against the AL—going just 2-5 with a 5.70 ERA in seven lifetime starts.
Hamels is 2-1 with a 2.03 ERA in four starts this June, striking out 26 in 31 innings, but his lone defeat came Sunday versus the Los Angeles Angels, who reached him for three runs in seven innings of a 3-2 loss.
The Phillies (43-38) have dropped eight of their last nine games, but with the rest of the NL East also having issues winning consistently, they still lead the division. While the seven runs were their most since an 8-6 win over Boston on June 16 before this recent swoon, the lack of long-ball productivity from key hitters continues to be an issue.
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have not homered in their last 11 and nine games, respectively. Utley is hitting .197 (12-for-61) in his last 16 games, and Howard is batting .139 (5-for-36) with 15 strikeouts in Philadelphia’s nine-game funk.