The San Diego Padres have put themselves in position to win their first NL West title in four seasons at the expense of the Central division.
The Padres look to win six straight road games for the first time in four seasons Friday and extend their dominance of the NL Central as they begin a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
San Diego (73-47), which owns the NL’s largest divisional lead, is 22-5 against the Central following its first four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs with Thursday’s 5-3 victory. By comparison, the Padres are 26-21 versus the West, including a 12-12 combined mark against the bottom two teams in the division - Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
San Diego, a NL-best 37-25 on the road and a season-best 26 games above. 500, will give the ball to Wade LeBlanc(notes) (7-10, 3.46 ERA) as it seeks its longest win streak away from Petco Park since an eight-game stretch April 19-May 14, 2006.
LeBlanc, looking to win three straight starts for the first time, will try to continue the Padres’ remarkable stretch of starting pitching. Their rotation has gone 10-0 with a 1.68 ERA as the team has won 10 of 11.
LeBlanc, though, could benefit from more run support in his first start at Miller Park. The left-hander, who receives 3.60 runs per start, was staked to a 4-0, second-inning lead in Sunday’s 8-2 victory in San Francisco.
“You still approach the game like it’s 0-0, but at the same time if you’re going to make a mistake, you err on the side of being overaggressive,” he told the Padres’ official website after striking out seven and giving up two runs and four hits in seven innings. “You can’t change your approach based on the score.”
LeBlanc allowed eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-0 win over the visiting Brewers on April 29.
Milwaukee (57-64), which lost three of four in San Diego from April 29-May 2, counters with Yovani Gallardo(notes) (11-5, 2.97), who is 3-1 with a 4.55 ERA since returning from the disabled list with a right oblique strain.
Looking to win his third straight decision, the right-hander walked three and gave up four runs and seven hits over seven innings of Friday’s 5-4 loss at Colorado. It was Gallardo’s longest outing since June 24.
“Yo pitched terrific,” manager Ken Macha told the Brewers’ official website.
Gallardo struck out 11 and yielded one run in seven innings of a 2-1 victory in San Diego on May 1.
Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder(notes) has not fared as well in this matchup, batting .229 with six homers in 32 career games. He is expected to be in the lineup Friday after hurting his left wrist on a tag play in Wednesday’s 3-2 win at St. Louis.
San Diego has won eight of 11 versus Milwaukee.