Can you believe it, the Dodgers are off to their best start in 31 seasons, matching the 6-1 start that the World Champions of 1981. In actuality though the Dodgers have opposed two opponents — the Padres and Pirates, who combined last season to post a record of 143-181, or a win-percentage of 44 percent. While the Pirates might be an improved team, the Padres are not expected to be much better than what we have seen. San Diego will travel for the first time this season. After researching their record from last season, it made little difference whether they played at home, or on the road. The team was actually a game better on the road with a record of 36-45, versus the 35-46 record they posted at Petco Park. After dropping two-of-three at home last season, the Dodgers went on to sweep the following six games. San Diego just completed a series against the Diamondbacks where they dropped two-of-three, scoring only five total runs across the series.
Infield: After a terrific spring, Nick Hundley has starter rather disappointingly for the Padres, beginning the season 0-for-15 (much like Loney). This comes after hitting .432 in 37 at-bats during spring training. Yonder Alonso is at first, and has also been quiet. After hitting .330 in Cincinnati for 47 games, he has moved to the more pitcher-friendly Petco Park, where he is batting just .176, hardly anything to fear. The O-Dog, Orlando Hudson is suffering from this power outage too, hitting only .130, a bit over half of his career average. Still, as we remember from his Dodger days, Hudson is known more for what he brings forth with the glove. The lone bright spot for the Padres in last weekend’s opening series came courtesy of a Chase Headley grand slam. The problem for him is that four of his five RBIs came courtesy of that one swing. Otherwise he is batting just .150 this season with seven strikeouts.
Outfield: The hitting drought continues to the outfield where Jesus Guzman is right at the Mendoza-line, this after hitting .312 last season. Guzman is keeping left-field warm for the eventual return of Carlos Quentin, who will still be away from the club for a few weeks. In center is Cameron Maybin, the player who smashed a 445-foot monster of a home run against Kenley Jansen. Otherwise he is batting .240, and has no home runs or RBIs to account for aside from his big moment. The five-tool player can go off at any given moment, but has been passed down for a reason. He holds the highest average on this team. Not far behind him is right-fielder Will Venable, who is hitting .235 on the season, but has drawn three walks. Venable is patient, and can hurt you if he is given the proper pitch.
Starters: The Dodgers will begin this series against Clayton Richard, the sole pitcher to reign victorious against Los Angeles this season. Richard is not a strikeout artist by any means, but can be very good at limiting a team’s production. In his previous outing he held the Dodgers to just two runs and two hits in 7.0 innings, striking out three with no walks. Aaron Harang will seek redemption against him in Game 1, he will also be seeking his first victory as a Dodger. Saturday will prove to be interesting, as 22-year old prospect Joe Wieland makes his Major League debut for the Padres. In two starts at Triple-A Tucson, Wieland went 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA, but posting an impressive K:BB ratio of 5.50. He gives up a lot of hits, which will play to the favor of the Dodgers. Really, it’s a favorable situation as Ted Lilly plans to make his return from the disabled list to oppose the rookie. Finally on Sunday the Padres will send their ace to the mound as Edinson Volquez prepares for a rematch with Clayton Kershaw. Volquez continued to impress in his most recent outing against Arizona, allowing two runs. The weakness of Volquez is his tendency to pitch wild, having walked seven batters in 12 innings. He cannot afford to be off on Sunday, because if he does the Dodgers will score, and won’t take many runs of support for Kershaw to secure a victory.
Closer: With a lack of a lead comes few save opportunities. Padres closer Huston Street has converted on one save this season, but has had just that one opportunity. He has made three total appearances, and has yet to allow a hit. He has struck out only one batter thus far. Remember that last season Street converted on just five-of-eight save chances against the Dodgers while with divisional-rival Colorado.
Friday, April 13th at 7:10 p.m.: Clayton Richard (1-0) vs. Aaron Harang (0-1) – Friday Night Fireworks – Prime Ticket
Saturday, April 14th at 6:10 p.m.: Joe Wieland (0-0) vs. Ted Lilly (0-0) – Dodger Stadium Replica – Prime Ticket
Sunday, April 15th at 1:10 p.m.: Edinson Volquez (0-1) vs. Clayton Kershaw (0-0) – Kids Jackie Robinson Sweatbands, Kids Run the Bases, and Viva Los Dodgers – Prime Ticket