“We’ve been a hit away in key situations,” Schumaker said.
Hours later, Schumaker’s words proved prophetic as the Padres won the opener of the three-game series 6-2. Twice in the first four innings, the Marlins seemed to have Padres starter Michael Wacha on the ropes. And the results of two golden opportunities — zero runs.
In the first, the Marlins had runners at the corners with one out after back-to-back singles by Luis Arraez and Josh Bell. However, Wacha struck out Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jake Burger.
In the fourth, the Marlins loaded the bases with one on a single by Burger and the only two walks issued by Wacha on the night. Joey Wendle then grounded into a double play.
“A hit in either of those situations changes the game,” Schumaker said.
However, the Miami skipper has nothing on Padres manager Bob Melvin. Even after San Diego’s impressive win, Melvin was wondering about which Padres team would show up on Tuesday. The Padres have developed the habit of following big wins with listless performances.
“That’s the frustrating part,” Melvin said. “I don’t think it’s been a letdown. … Every time we take a step forward, it ends up not being enough. This is another opportunity. We’ve talked about this. It’s a pain to keep having to do this. It affects you some mentally.”
So, one team will win Tuesday … and the other team will continue to befuddle.
The contest will feature a left-handed pitching matchup that on paper would seem to favor the Padres — San Diego’s Blake Snell (10-8, 2.65 ERA) vs. Miami’s Jesus Luzardo (8-8, 4.13).
Luzardo’s spot in the Miami rotation was scheduled to come up on Monday. However, due to Luzardo’s recent struggles, Schumaker gave the 25-year-old an extra day’s rest.
Luzardo is 0-3 in his past four starts, giving up 21 runs (20 earned) on 30 hits (including eight homers) and nine walks with 16 strikeouts in 17 innings. That’s a 10.59 ERA — ballooning his ERA from 3.22 to 4.13. And he didn’t go deeper than 5 1/3 innings in any of the four starts.
Luzardo has skills. He finished eighth in the 2020 American League Rookie of the Year voting while pitching for Melvin in Oakland. He has 160 strikeouts in 137 1/3 innings this season — an average of 10.5 per nine innings. And he went into the All-Star break with a 3.29 ERA.
Luzardo is 0-3 with a 6.19 ERA in three career starts against the Padres. He allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 10-1 home loss to San Diego on June 1.
Meanwhile, Snell leads the major leagues in earned run average. He also leads in walks with 78 (in 136 innings). No pitcher has ever finished a season simultaneously leading in those two categories. Snell also leads the major leagues in fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.2).
Snell was selected the National League Pitcher of the Month for June after going 3-1 in five starts with a 0.87 ERA, a 0.677 WHIP and a .124 opponents’ batting average. He has won his past four decisions and is 9-2 since the start of June. He has allowed as many as three runs only once in his last 16 starts.
However, his walk rate has jumped since the All-Star break, driving up his pitch count and limiting his innings. Snell is still striking his way out of jams, but he hasn’t gone as far as seven innings since June 11.
Snell is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins. He did not get a decision in a scoreless outing at Miami on May 31 when he allowed three hits in six innings. The Marlins wound up scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth to win 2-1.
—Field Level Media
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