DBacks Try to Sweep Aside the Sweep Against Padres

After a stunning three game sweep at the hands of the suddenly hot Devil Rays the reeling Diamondbacks head west to San Diego where Associate Editor Joshua Kagi predicts not only will the D'Backs right the ship, they'll swab the deck with the Padres.

So maybe getting swept by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays isn't such a bad thing. I mean, they are currently on an 11-game winning streak, what can you do when a team gets rolling like that? Okay, so the sting (no pun intended) is still there and it hurts. A sweep at home to our only "natural" AL rival in our first ever series against them was tough to take; however it's time to move on because the Diamondbacks (27-42) have a divisional series on the road against another struggling team in the San Diego Padres (34-34).

The series stands at 3-3 this year with the home team winning each series two games to one. The Padres are currently 13-12 this year against the NL West and 17-17 at home, while Arizona has an 11-14 divisional record and are 14-20 on the road.

Casey Fossum, Steve Sparks, and Randy Johnson are all expected to see starts against San Diego, and will be faced by Ismael Valdez, Adam Eaton, and David Wells respectively.

The Padres have held the NL West division lead at times this season, but have lost nine of their last 12 falling 3.5 games behind the West-leading Dodgers and 2.5 back from the surging Giants.

"We're too good a ballclub to be shut out or to be sputtering the way we are. This is too good a lineup but like I said, every team goes through it." Padres manager Bruce Bochy told Mike Scarr of MLB.com

Valdez, the San Diego starter for Monday nights series opening game holds a 4-1 career record against Arizona with a 3.13 ERA, and is 1-0 this season against the D'Backs with a 3.00 ERA.

Diamondbacks left-fielder Luis Gonzalez has a .368 batting average in 38 at-bats against Valdez, with five homeruns, 10 RBI, 2 stolen bases, and four walks. Right-fielder Danny Bautista has also been successful against the San Diego starter in a relatively few five plate appearances batting .500, while center-fielder Steve Finley is hitting just .102 in 49 at-bats against Valdez.

Only Jeff Cirillo, Terrence Long, and Ramon Hernadez have faced Casey Fossum. Long is currently hitting .400 in five at-bats with one one-run and three RBI against the Diamondback lefty.

In Tuesday's game both Alex Cintron and Gonzalez show incredible stats against San Diego Starter Adam Eaton. While the rest of the ‘regular starters' all have respectable numbers facing Eaton, Cintron has hit .455 in 11 at-bats with two doubles and a triple while Gonzalez is .417 in 24 at-bats with 3 doubles, 3 homeruns, and seven RBI. Combined the entire Diamondbacks roster has eight homers and has a 3.92 ERA against Eton.

On the other side of Tuesday evening's match-up is knuckleballer Steve Sparks. Long has hit .467 against Sparks in 15 career at-bats with three RBI and a stolen base.

The match-up that everyone is looking forward to in this series is on Wednesday night in what could be the rubber match of this key series for both squads; Wells vs. Johnson.

Wells, who signed with the Padres in the off-season has struggled as San Diego's ace this year with just a 2-5 record, but that might have less to do with his pitching and more to do with the league worst 1.92 runs per game the Padres bats have given him. Johnson has been one of the few highlights to the 2004 season for Arizona with a 9-5 record and a 3.05 ERA. All the pressure in the world is on Randy to win every time out because he is the only sure thing this D-back team has.

Gonzalez again has had phenomenal success against the San Diego starting pitcher, and looks set to have a great series (if you have him on your fantasy team make room for him this week!). He has hit .417 in 12 at-bats against Wells with two home runs and six RBI.

New Page 2 New Page 2 Johnson holds a 13-2 career record against the Padres including a victory earlier this season at PETCO Park. Brian Buchanan and Phil Nevin both have respectable histories against the Big Unit hitting .316 and .333 respectively.

The series is a key one for both teams. San Diego is still in the race for a division title, they're first since 1998, while the Diamondbacks are trying to find just one shred of hope for this season.

FurtureBacks.com pick: The D-backs sweep the Friars with the help of Gonzalez great bat and solid pitching in all three starts. It could be a turning point for the season; at least that's what I'd like to believe.

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