The San Diego Padres consistently play winning ball against teams with losing records.
They swept all six games against Cincinnati. They've won three of their four games against the Miami Marlins. They won two of three against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
Now the Pirates head to San Diego for athree-game visit this weekend as the Padres try to rebound from two straight losses to the Milwaukee Brewers while hoping to get some bats in action.
The series marks the first half of a Pirates' trip to the West Coast that concludes with three games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Pirates flew west after defeating Colorado 10-5 Wednesday to complete a 2-4 homestand, while the Padres scored just five runs on 22 hits in losing two of three games at home to the Brewers.
Jose Quintana (1-2, 2.43 ERA) will start for the Pirates Friday night against the Padres' Sean Manaea (2-3, 4.04) in a matchup of left-handers. Both Quintana and Manaea will be making their ninth starts of the season.
The Pirates have won three of the last four games started by the 33-year-old Quintana, who has a 1.66 ERA and a 1.062 WHIP in May. This month, Quintana has allowed seven runs (four earned) on 16 hits and seven walks with 17 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings.
"It starts with pitching and Jose has been throwing the ball really well," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.
Included in Quintana's May run was a six-inning shutout effort against the Dodgers, when he allowed two hits and four walks.
"He neutralized one of the best offense in the major leagues," said Shelton.
Quintana has faced the Padres six times (four starts) over the past five seasons with a 2-0 record despite a 6.20 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP. In two relief appearances for the Giants against the Padres last season, Quintana gave up four runs on six hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings.
After going 2-1 in three quality starts to start the season, Manaea has given up 20 runs (19 earned) in 30 innings in his last five starts, in which the Padres have gone 1-4. He has given up four home runs over 19 innings in his three starts in May.
Manaea is not the Padres' main concern. The offense is.
"Last Sunday, we had an excellent offensive game in San Francisco," said Padres manager Bob Melvin. "Although it's been a bit of a struggle the last couple games, I've seen good signs."
Pittsburgh's Shelton could say the same about a pair of hitters who were once in the Padres' system.
Outfielder Jack Suwinski and second baseman Josh VanMeter each had a home run and three RBIs in the 10-5 win over the Rockies Wednesday. Suwinski leads National League rookies with five home runs despite being in the majors less than a month.
"It's been a pretty crazy month for sure," Suwinski said. "It's been great, just the adjustment and learning and being able to talk to the guys here about baseball."
--Field Level Media