It's a tough crowd in San Diego these days.
No sooner had the Padres lost to Pittsburgh 6-4 Sunday, the question was asked by many: "Will the Padres ever see .500 again this season?"
After posting their fastest start to a season since 2010, climbing to six games above .500 and leading the National League West midway through April, the Padres have slipped back into their old habits.
Sunday's loss was the third straight to the visiting Pirates, as well as the Padres' sixth loss in their last seven games.
They awoke Monday morning looking at the underside of .500 for the first time this season. Now the Arizona Diamondbacks come to San Diego for a three-game series before the Padres hit the road for a six-game trip to Toronto and the New York Yankees.
The best opportunity for the Padres to get back to .500 might come Monday night with right-handed rookie Chris Paddack (3-2, 1.99 ERA) starting for the Padres against Diamondbacks right-hander Luke Weaver (3-2, 3.16).
But there is also the Padres' record at home this season (11-14) and against rivals from the National League West (11-13) -- although they are 4-3 against the Diamondbacks, who opened May by moving past the Padres into second place in the division.
"We have some things we need to improve at," Padres manager Andy Green told reporters recently while mentioning his club's home record, inability to get on base at better than a .287 clip (the second-lowest mark in the National League) and ability to strike out in bunches (460 times, is also the second-worst mark in the NL).
The Padres are now 6-11 in May. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, are 8-9 -- not exactly powering away from the Padres while also losing ground to the Dodgers.
After eight major league starts, Paddack has become something of a Padres ace, although he is coming off his worst start of the season. Last Tuesday, in his first visit to Dodgers Stadium, Paddack gave up six runs (three earned) on five hits, including two homers, and a walk with three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
The outing ballooned his ERA to 1.99 from 1.55 -- although it would be the fifth-best mark in the National League if he had enough innings (he is one shy) to qualify.
Monday night will be Paddack's second start against the Diamondbacks. In his third career start on April 12, Paddack held Arizona to a run on three hits and a walk with five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. The Padres are 6-2 in games started by Paddack.
Weaver, meanwhile, has been coming on strong for the Diamondbacks. He has three straight quality starts, going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA, a .183 opponents' batting average and 19 strikeouts in 20 innings. He is also 3-0 in his last three road starts with a 0.98 ERA, a .194 OBA and 24 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings.
On May 9, the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder hit 99 mph with his fastball for the first time since his minor league days in the Cardinals' system.
"I knew I threw it as hard as I could," Weaver told reporters of the pitch. "Sometimes, it's nice to see a number that backs up how hard you threw it."
Weaver is 2-2 in four career starts against the Padres with a 2.28 ERA, a .231 OBA and 26 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on five hits while striking out eight and not walking a batter in a 2-1 Diamondbacks loss to the Padres in Phoenix on April 12.
--Field Level Media