Everyone’s favorite interleague rival is coming to town: the San Diego Padres. As with most teams that face the Mariners, if not all, this is a one-sided contest. The Padres are scraping the bottom of the National League, the Mariners are struggling to keep third place in a locked and loaded AL West, and neither team has any bone to pick with the other. But just for the sake of spicing up interleague play, sure—let’s beat the Padres.
Current record: 20-41
Last game: vs. Brewers. This rubber match had the makings of a win. Will Venable struck a home run to left-center field in the first at-bat of the game, and the Friars preserved a 2-0 lead through 5 innings. Even after Anthony Bass handed a 3-run shot to Martin Maldonado, San Diego rallied in the 9th with another 3 runs, coming one called strikeout short of tying the Brewers.
This month, the Padres are 3-for-9, narrowly escaping sweeps by the D-backs, Giants, and Brewers. Tonight’s game marks their first interleague match-up of the season.
Last series against Seattle: July 1 – 3, 2011. Assisted by the offensive prowess of Adam Kennedy and Jack Cust (don’t laugh), Jason Vargas put up a 6-0 complete game shutout against Dustin Moseley and the Pads. San Diego responded with a 1-0 shutout of their own the next night, but lost the series finale to Blake Beavan, Justin Smoak, and Dustin Ackley.
Over the last five years, the Mariners have played two series against San Diego each summer for a record of 16-8. At Petco Park, they are 9-3, and 7-5 at Safeco.
Pitching matchups: Tuesday — Felix Hernandez vs. LHP Clayton Richard. I feel confident in placing almost any given pitcher against King Felix, and Richard’s numbers only boost my confidence. He faltered in his last start against the Giants, going 5.2 innings for 10 hits, 6 runs, and a lone strikeout. On the season, he is 2-7 with a 4.11 SIERA, 2.05 K/BB, and 4.49 FIP.
Wednesday — Hector Noesi vs. RHP Jason Marquis. Marquis is currently riding a streak of five losses, his last against the Royals on April 29. The last time he faced the Mariners was in Twins uniform on May 5, when he allowed 4 hits, 2 runs, and a season-high 6 walks in 6 IP. After his first start for the Padres last week, Marquis holds a SIERA of 4.66, K/BB of 1.20, and FIP of 6.75.
Thursday — Kevin Millwood vs. RHP Edinson Volquez. In 13 starts, Volquez has accumulated a SIERA OF 4.51, a K/BB of 1.49, and an FIP of 4.30. He made his last appearance against Milwaukee on Friday, unraveling over 5 innings with 6 hits, 6 earned runs, 4 walks, and a whopping 3 homers in just 24 batters.
Expected result: Whenever I prepare for a series against a “lesser” team like the Padres, it seems simple enough to predict a sweep. You look at the numbers, you weigh your options, and you lean heavily on Felix Hernandez. Of course, the Mariners always have a few surprises up their sleeves—whether they’re pounding the Rangers 21-7 or falling apart against the Athletics 4-0.
While interleague play doesn’t concern me as much as inter-division games, my concerns heading into these games will be the return of Kevin Millwood and King Felix. Millwood left Friday’s game with a right groin strain, and Felix hasn’t made a start in over a week due to a sore back.