Opposite dugout: Light-hitting Padres’ pitching staff making opponents say uncle

PadresLogo.jpgManager: Bud Black, eighth year
Record: 10-12
Last 10 games: 5-5
Who to watch: RF Chris Denorfia (.328/.349/.492, 6 XBH, 7 RBIs); LF Seth Smith (.274/.374/.419, 2 HR, 6 RBIs); RHP Andrew Cashner (2-2, 2.10 ERA, 1.05 WHIP); RHP Ian Kennedy (1-3, 3.60 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
Season series vs. Nats (2013): 2-5, 38 runs scored, 41 runs against

Pitching probables
April 24: Eric Stults vs. Jordan Zimmermann, 7 p.m., MASN2 HD
April 25: Robbie Erlin vs. Stephen Strasburg, 7 p.m., MASN2 HD
April 26: Andrew Cashner vs. Tanner Roark, 1 p.m., MASN HD
April 27: Ian Kennedy vs. Taylor Jordan, 1:35 p.m., MASN2 HD

Series breakdown
The Padres come to Washington as one of the worst offensive teams in the majors. They rank last in the league with 60 runs scored and 27th with a .225 average.

But they sure can pitch.

San Diego ranks fourth in the big leagues with a 2.82 ERA and owns the best bullpen in baseball with a 1.74 ERA (12 earned runs in 62 innings). The relief corps is led by right-handers Dale Thayer, Nick Vincent and Huston Street, as well as left-hander Alex Torres, who have combined to hold opponents to four runs in 38 innings.

But the Padres, as has been tradition, have greater success in the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park, where they have a 2.38 ERA compared to 3.46 on the road.

San Diego’s staff was especially exceptional before Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the Brewers. The Padres entered that contest with a streak of 10 straight games allowing four runs or fewer. They posted a 2.32 ERA over those 10 contests, eight of which were at home.

Right-hander Andrew Cashner has led the rotation thus far, pitching to a 2.10 ERA through five starts. He’ll face Washington’s Tanner Roark on Saturday.

Offensively, outfielder Chris Denorfia is the lone full-timer with an OPS over .800 and shortstop Everth Cabrera leads the team with eight doubles. But second baseman Jedd Gyorko seems to be experiencing a sophomore slump. After finishing sixth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting last season, Gyorko is batting just .135 with one homer and eight RBIs.

But the lineup isn’t what makes the Padres a must-watch. One of baseball’s best pitching staffs spends four days dueling with one of the majors’ best lineups at Nationals Park.

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