Major League Baseball

Marlins, Padres to play rubber game of series

mlb14MARLINS (20-36) AT PADRES (30-28)
6:10 p.m. ET; FSSD, FS-F, MLB.TV

The Padres were hoping it wouldn’t come to this — a rubber match to decide a three-game series with the lowly Miami Marlins.

But that is the scenario Sunday afternoon at Petco Park in San Diego after the Marlins scored a 9-3 win to drop the Padres into third place in the National League West.

The Padres will send out left-hander Matt Strahm (2-4, 3.21 ERA) Sunday against Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards (2-5, 3.82). It will be the first start for both pitchers against the other team.

Not only do the Padres need a win to claim the series against the Marlins, they need a win to prevent falling below .500 at home this season. And despite the Marlins’ overall 20-36 record, they’re playing better of late. Saturday night’s win was Miami’s fourth in its last six games, and it is 10-5 since May 17.

“Some things are beginning to click,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Saturday night. “We’re playing better, and some things that hadn’t been going our way went our way tonight. It’s not a lot of damage with the long ball. It’s get your hits and keep the line moving.”

One of the things clicking for the Marlins recently is Richards, who is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA over his last three starts with 15 strikeouts against five walks in 19 innings. He was 0-5 with a 4.46 ERA in his eight starts before that.

While Richards will be facing the Padres for the first time Sunday, he is no stranger to National League West teams. In fact, he has had more success against the N.L. West than the other two divisions.

In his most recent start, Richards held the San Francisco Giants to one run on two hits with five strikeouts in seven innings.

In six starts against National League West teams over the past two seasons, Richards is 3-1 with a 1.87 ERA and a .161 opponents’ batting average with 32 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings.

Strahm, meanwhile has not given up more than three earned runs in any of his past nine starts since giving up five runs in his first start of the season. Since that start, Strahm has a 2.53 ERA and a .220 opponents’ batting average. He has six quality starts in his last seven outings.

“There are no real changes for Matt from what he’s been doing,” said Padres manager Andy Green.

“It’s a four-pitch mix that is working very, very well. I thought in his last game (at Yankee Stadium), it took an inning or two for him to find his footing. That frequently happens to starters. Obviously, we’d like him to have his footing right when the game starts. He’s done a really nice job for us. For him, it’s hard for opponents to sit on a particular pitch because he’s using both sides of the plate with all four pitches.”

Strahm gave up three runs against the Yankees, all in the second inning, although he struck out 10 over six innings in taking the loss.

–Field Level Media

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