The weekend series between the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres has not lacked for any drama or intensity.
These postseason contenders will conclude their three-game set with Sunday’s finale at San Diego.
Philadelphia snapped a four-game losing streak by holding on for a 4-3 win in Friday’s series opener.
It then looked as if the Phillies would make it two in a row, but Jake Cronenworth’s two-run homer in the ninth ended Aaron Nola’s complete-game bid on Saturday. The Padres went on to even the set by snapping their own four-game slide with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings.
The Phillies have lost eight of the last 11. Meanwhile, San Diego won for just the second time in 10 games.
“Both teams are struggling, and we’re all trying to compete for the playoffs and someone’s got to win,” Phillies’ closer Ian Kennedy told the team’s official website.
San Diego hasn’t won back-to-back contests since a four-game winning streak from Aug. 7-10. Yet, the way things unfolded Saturday, that could serve as the springboard to get hot down the stretch.
“The encouraging thing is that it is still in front of us and we’re playing meaningful baseball games,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said.
“We do feel that we haven’t played our best baseball yet.”
Cronenworth is batting .311 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 12 games. He’s hitless in three at-bats against scheduled Philadelphia starter Kyle Gibson (8-5, 3.18 ERA).
The veteran right-hander has split his four appearances since coming over Texas last month, but will try to avoid a third consecutive losing decision. In his most recent outing on Tuesday, Gibson allowed three runs and seven hits while walking two with five strikeouts in the 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Gibson is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two career starts against San Diego. Manny Machado is batting .333 (7-for-21) versus Gibson while teammate Eric Hosmer is a lifetime .317 hitter (13-for-41) against him.
San Diego appears slated to counter with Craig Stammen (5-3, 3.16) in what is likely to be a bullpen game. The right-hander has a 7.50 ERA without a decision during his three starts this season. Stammen’s most recent outing in that capacity came last Sunday at Arizona, when he tossed two scoreless innings.
Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins is 2-for-3 with a double and home run against Stammen, but it’s uncertain if he’ll return from a groin injury that’s kept him out of action since Aug. 5. Hoskins leads the Phillies with 24 homers and 68 RBIs, and is batting .394 with three of those home runs and 11 driven in over his past 10 contests.
“I don’t want to say I won’t be,” Hoskins told the Phillies’ official website about his potential availability for Sunday. “If I feel great (Sunday), then it’s something that I don’t want to rule out.”
Teammate Andrew McCutchen is 3-for-10 with two home runs versus Stammen, but 4-for-45 with 18 strikeouts over his past 12 games. He fanned in all five plate appearances on Saturday.
–Field Level Media