The San Diego Padres have been looking forward to Thursday for a long time.
The COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in California, and Petco Park in San Diego is open to 100 percent capacity. Thursday’s opener to a 10-game homestand has been billed as the 2021 Re-Opening Day. There will be bunting, a flyover and a packed house.
On the field will be two teams headed in opposite directions.The Padres, who owned the best record in the majors on May 29, are in a tailspin. And visiting Cincinnati is “red” hot.
The Reds arrive in San Diego with a 35-31 record. They have won six straight, are 11-2 over the last 13 games and 13-3 over the last 16, and they’re coming off a three-game sweep of the Brewers in Milwaukee.
The Padres return home off a 1-5 road trip that ended with three straight losses at Coors Field in Colorado. The Padres are 4-13 since their 16-3 run ended on May 30. They have gone from the best record in the National League to the sixth best. And if they lose Thursday — which would give the Padres a trio of four-game losing streaks in just over two weeks — they will have the seventh-best record.
Clearly, the words of both managers Wednesday spoke volumes about where their respective teams are at the moment.
“This was a terrible road trip, there’s no sugar-coating it,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re playing poor baseball. There’s a sense of urgency. But we’re incredibly excited about being able to play at home before capacity crowds. We want to make sure that we’re doing our end of the bargain. We need to play good baseball. If we have a packed house, that’s what they want to see.”
Meanwhile, Reds manager David Bell said: “I always look back at certain points, certain games … it usually comes on a tough game or a tough loss, something you learn from, failure a lot of times. When you can stay strong, stay tough and keep going through those times, that’s when you’re rewarded. That’s what I saw several times from this team.”
Oh, there is one other footnote to Thursday’s Reds-Padres series opener. The rival pitchers — Cincinnati left-hander Wade Miley (6-4, 2.92 ERA) and Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove (4-6, 2.50 ERA) — have both thrown no-hitters this season.
Musgrove threw the first no-hitter in Padres’ history on April 9 at Texas. Only a hit batter denied him a perfect game. Musgrove struck out 10 Rangers.
Miley got his no-hitter on May 7 against state-rival Cleveland. He issued one walk and struck out eight.
Plus, both have pitched well recently and have knowledge of tonight’s opponent as a division rival in the past.
Miley, 34, is 2-1 over his past four starts with a 1.59 ERA and a 1.119 WHIP. This will be his 14th career start against the Padres and 10th at Petco Park. He is 1-6 against the Padres with a 5.38 ERA and a 1.506 WHIP. Miley is 1-4 at Petco Park with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.454 WHIP.
Although he has given up three runs in each of his last two starts and taken the loss in both, Musgrove has a 1.91 ERA and a 0.818 WHIP over his six most recent appearances. He is 3-2 lifetime against the Reds in six appearances (five starts) with a 4.11 ERA and a 0.978 WHIP.
–Field Level Media