Why can the San Diego Padres always find a way to beat the San Francisco Giants? They have already had two 5-3 victories in this 4-game series and are poised to win (at least) and sweep (at best) the series before moving into Los Angeles, to face the Dodgers in the last series before the All-Star break. This year the Padres are 3-1 against the Giants, so far on their way to replicating their record last year when they went 12-6 against the NL West foes. Unfortunately the Padres were unable to win the series in Seattle and could be going for their fifth strait series win if they had been able to pull that out.
I am really tired, on a side note, of playing the Seattle Mariners, they are not a rival of any sense, just because they happen to play their spring training games at the same facility does not make them our “natural rival,” it is the most inane rivalry ever! And the Padres can never beat that team even when they aren’t that good (although this year they are doing well, but this goes back a long time). One of the reasons I am not in favor at all of league readjustment, which I will get to later.
Back to the Giants though, what is it that makes them so susceptible to the Padres, I think it boils down to the similarity of styles of play. The Giants and the Padres both rely on pitching, defense, clutch hitting, and speed (though not in that order for each team). The Padres this year thought they were going to improve the defense, which has been shaky at best this year being 14 of 16 NL clubs in fielding percentage at .982. (Last year they had a .988 fielding percentage, which I know doesn’t sound like a lot but it equates to 71 E all the entire 2010 season, this year they have 61 E already. However, if you want to look at positives the range factor has improved, last year per 9-innings the range factor was 4.12, this year is is 4.21, that means the Padres are now getting to more balls than they were last season.) The Giants are in the same boat however, without as much speed to make it even worse, the Giants have 56 E this year, so aren’t much worse than the Padres, unfortunately they are playing about where they should while the Padres have had a pretty bad first half in the field. This should only improve, and if the Padres can continue to win series they will have to play better defense, which they are more than capable of.
The Giants and Padres also both rely on pitching, the Padres have a 3.27 team ERA, the Giants have a 3.26 – the Padres have a better bullpen, the Giants a better rotation. However, what’s odd is the Giants don’t hit well with runners in scoring position (.228) nor with RISP and 2-out (.189), the Padres do equal or better than that with a .227 in both categories. However the Giants do best the Padres two crucial areas, extra-base hits which the Giants have 229 to the Padres 186; and strikeouts, where the Padres have an Major League worse 699 the Giants have almost 100 less at 602 (thats 8.03 team SO/game for the Pads and 6.91 team SO/game for the Giants). That all equates to 315 runs to the Padres 297, which again does not seem like a lot but the Giants have eight more wins, so they are doing something right and while the Padres make up for a lot with the their speed they need to improve in these areas.
(If the Padres can score 4 four runs or more, which I have been saying for years, they win the game, last they were 61-16 in games they scored 4 or more runs, this year they 29-8. In fact the Padres have only won 11 games with less than 4 runs, despite their great pitching they still need to score.)
The Giants and Padres playing similar style just seems to play into the Padres hands, it is almost uncanny how the Giants can do it against every other club in the ML and the Padres have trouble, but the Padres can do it against the Giants. Funny, this game of baseball.