The San Diego Padres hope that bookend wins in Miami at the end of a 5-4 road trip can serve as the spark they need to get on a roll.
San Diego looks to maintain momentum on Friday night in the first of four games against the Cubs. The Padres are beginning a six-game homestand while Chicago is opening a 10-game California trip.
The Padres are still not playing up to expectations. They are four games under .500 overall and 12-15 at home.
However, they might have exorcized one of their demons in Miami, where they went 12-for-30 with runners in scoring position in their two wins, 9-4 on Tuesday and 10-1 on Thursday. In between, they took a 2-1 loss in which they held a 1-0 lead heading to the bottom of the ninth.
"Our approach was great," San Diego manager Bob Melvin said following the Thursday afternoon victory. "We got some guys on base, we were moving them over and getting them in without trying to hit the home run.
"I hope it's a big shift because the numbers for us in RISP situations have been really bad. Once the doors are open, hopefully it's a floodgate."
The Padres, who rank last in the majors with a .200 RISP batting average, look bring it home against a Cubs team that took two of three when San Diego visited Chicago in late April. The Cubs outscored San Diego 14-7 with the Padres going 3-for-24 in RISP opportunities.
"We pitched them really well," Cubs manager David Ross said after the first Cubs-Padres meeting. Overall, the Padres hit .208 (20-for-96) in Chicago.
However, Friday night's pitching matchup -- San Diego's Michael Wacha (5-1, 3.45 ERA) vs. Chicago's Jameson Taillon (0-3, 8.04) -- favors the Padres if the May results carry over into the first June outing for the 31-year-old right-handers.
Wacha was 3-0 in five May starts with an 0.84 ERA and an 0.72 WHIP in 32 innings. The Padres were 3-2 in Wacha's May starts (scoring a total of three runs in the two losses) and are 7-3 overall when he has started in 2023.
Taillon was 0-1 in five May starts with a 10.90 ERA and a 1.96 WHIP in 17 1/3 innings. The Cubs were 0-5 in Taillon's May starts and are 0-8 when he starts a game this season.
However, the Cubs are no strangers to Wacha, who spent his first seven seasons with the rival St. Louis Cardinals. Wacha has a 4-8 career record against the Cubs with a 6.45 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP in 21 games (19 starts). Wacha started the game the Padres won in Chicago on April 26, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five innings.
Taillon, who did not face the Padres earlier this season, has a 1-0 career record against the Padres with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in three career starts. However, he has not faced the Padres since 2018.
--Field Level Media