Hoffman has been far from intimidating at the beginning of his second year with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Hoffman may get the chance to try to end his recent struggles in Thursday night’s opener of a four-game series with the Padres, who are seeking a seventh straight home win.
After being acquired from Florida midway through the 1993 season, Hoffman became one of the game’s best closers and collected 552 of his 594 saves with San Diego. He recorded at least 40 in nine seasons and converted 53 of 54 opportunities in 1998.
He’s now blown more saves this week than he did that season.
Hoffman gave up his first career grand slam to Pittsburgh’s Ryan Doumit(notes) as part of a five-run meltdown in Tuesday’s 7-3 loss, and Doumit hit a tying solo homer off him in the ninth Wednesday as Milwaukee went on to lose 6-5 in 14.
“It’s easy to kind of say you’re snake bit, or whatever,” Hoffman said. “Bottom line is I didn’t get it done again.”
He’s recorded a major league-worst four blown saves in his last seven appearances. Hoffman, though, converted his only attempt during his three scoreless innings against his former team last season.
The Brewers (9-12) finished a 1-5 homestand, but have a chance to win five straight on the road for the first time since a franchise record-tying, nine-game run from July 18-Aug. 2, 2008.
Milwaukee would seem to have the right starter to accomplish that feat as Doug Davis(notes) (0-2, 8.35 ERA) is 7-1 with a 2.42 ERA in his last 10 starts against the Padres, and 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his last four in San Diego.
After posting an 11.25 ERA in his first three starts, the left-hander also allowed a season-low two runs over 6 1-3 innings Saturday against Chicago but was on the wrong end of a 5-1 defeat.
If San Diego’s Wade LeBlanc(notes) (1-0, 0.82) continues to pitch well, Hoffman might not get the chance for redemption. The left-hander, who has never faced the Brewers, threw three-hit ball over six innings of Saturday’s 5-0 win in Cincinnati.
He’ll also try to help the Padres (13-8) extend their longest home win streak since taking 10 in a row May 7-24.
Gonzalez has batted .390 in 27 games against the Brewers - the best versus one opponent in his career - and was 11 for 16 in last season’s final three matchups, including a career-high six hits in a 13-6 win Aug. 11.
However, those games were in Milwaukee. He’s 3 for 23 in his last six at home against the Brewers.
Since coming to San Diego before the 2006 season, Gonzalez has batted .306 on the road and .264 at home. He’s hit 47 of his 136 homers with the Padres at Petco Park, but only one of the six he’s posted this year has been at home.