Cole Hamels returns to his childhood home when the Phillies begin a four-game set in San Diego. Baseball’s ERA leader, Chris Young, toes the rubber for the Pads.
Preview: After dropping their series to the Dodgers, the road trip doesn’t get any easier as Phillies dive head-first into a gauntlet of great pitching. First up is Chris Young (8-3, 1.97 ERA), a Cy Young candidate who hasn’t lost since May 12. Fan-tastic! He's one of two or three NL pitchers I'd take right now over Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.83 ERA). Hamels allowed four runs on eight hits over six innings in Saturday’s win over St. Louis. This is the second time he’s pitched in his home town. He allowed three runs over 5 2-3 innings and didn’t factor in the decision in his first start at Petco Park on July 17, 2006.
The 51-42 Padres are living proof why it’s all about the pitching. They’re right at the bottom of all major offensive categories, including on-base percentage - a putrid .313. Their lineup is totally devoid of weapons. Their leading hitter, Adrian Gonzalez, is batting .266 (Brian Giles, who would be leading, missed more than a month). Khalil Greene’s 16 homers leads the team. He’s reached base at a .276 clip. Second baseman Marcus Giles is so bad, he lost his job to Geoff Blum.
They win because they don’t walk anybody (248 is fewest in baseball) and don’t allow runs (their 3.13 team ERA is so good, I'm getting chubby). While the Phillies can’t stay over .500 for more than a few days playing half their games at Citizens Bank Park, Petco Park, possibly the most extreme pitchers' park in baseball, has created a favorable environment for the Padres to win consistently. It also doesn't hurt that the Padres have real pitching talent, while the Phillies, frankly, have a whole lot of nothing.
West Coast Beerleaguers have the floor. Enjoy the game, and go Phillies.