The San Diego Padres finished with at least six victories in each of their two previous nine-game homestands, but they’ll have to earn a sweep over the weekend to do that again.
They couldn’t ask for a more favorable opponent.
The Padres’ latest lengthy stay at Petco Park concludes with three games against the major league-worst Baltimore Orioles, who have lost 17 of 20 overall and have yet to win a road series entering Friday night’s opener.
San Diego (38-28) won 13 of 18 on its two previous long homestands, but has dropped three of four after taking its first two in this nine-game stretch.
Toronto left Petco having won two of three after a 7-1 victory Wednesday, marking the first series the Padres have dropped at home since the Dodgers swept them May 14-16.
San Diego might not have too much trouble bouncing back. The Orioles (18-48) continue to struggle under interim manager Juan Samuel, dropping to 3-9 with him at the helm after a 6-3 loss Wednesday at San Francisco.
“We had a lot of chances with men in scoring position and less than two outs,” second baseman Julio Lugo(notes) told the Orioles’ official website. “That’s been one of our weaknesses. We’re not putting the ball in play at the right time.”
Promising young left-hander Brian Matusz(notes) (2-7, 4.92 ERA) has certainly felt the effects of Baltimore’s offensive struggles. Matusz is 0-7 with a 5.19 ERA in nine starts since May 29, but the Orioles have only totaled 18 runs in those outings.
Matusz has never faced San Diego, but he’s familiar with Petco. The Colorado native attended the University of San Diego and spent more than his share of time downtown watching the Padres.
“It’s just a ballpark that I went to a lot of games to when I was in college, so to be able to throw there is going to be pretty special,” Matusz told MLB.com.
He’s allowed seven homers in his last five starts but pitched well Saturday despite allowing two solo shots. He held the Mets to three runs and five hits over eight innings in a 3-1 loss.
“I was just attacking the zone today,” Matusz said. “All my pitches were working really well, and it’s something I can carry over to my next start. I felt like I was in a good groove.”
The Padres counter with another southpaw, and Wade LeBlanc(notes) (4-4, 3.05) has looked like a keeper in his first full major league season. He has bounced back from a shaky three-start stretch by winning his last two, following seven scoreless innings at Philadelphia on June 7 by limiting Seattle to a run over six innings in a 7-1 win Saturday.
LeBlanc worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first against the Mariners.
“That was huge,” said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez(notes), hitting .393 with six homers and 16 RBIs since June 2. “Everyone is trying to get into the groove of the game and something like that just gets you going.”