The San Diego Padres are at the point of the season in which they need to go on a sustained run.
The Houston Astros lead the American League West and would just like to score some runs when they open a three-game set in San Diego on Friday night.
The Astros (78-55) are coming off back-to-back shutout losses against the Seattle Mariners while seeing their division lead fall to 4 1/2 games over the Oakland Athletics. Wednesday’s loss in Seattle was a highly frustrating 1-0 result.
“It stinks to happen back-to-back days, especially against an in-division rival we’ve seen quite a bit,” said Astros right-hander Jake Odorizzi, the losing pitcher Wednesday. “We just couldn’t push (runs) across. That’s the matter of fact of it.
“These two losses (stink), and I have the utmost confidence in our guys to rebound from this and have a good series in San Diego.”
The Padres (71-63) are in major rebound mode after falling 8-3 to the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday for their 14th setback in the past 19 games. San Diego trails the Cincinnati Reds by a half-game in the National League wild-card race after Thursday’s off day.
San Diego also faces a tough schedule down the stretch that includes 16 games against the top two teams in the NL West — six against the Los Angeles Dodgers (all on the road) and 10 against the San Francisco Giants (seven on the road).
Third baseman Manny Machado said he isn’t dismayed by the team’s recent swoon and is ready for a challenging final month.
“We definitely had a rough road in August, and obviously the record shows it, but we’re a confident team,” Machado told reporters. “We just stay confident in each other that things will turn around. We know what type of ball club we have. We have great players all around. … We’ve still got a lot of baseball ahead of us.”
Part of San Diego’s fall from being 17 games over .500 on Aug. 10 to the current eight is tied to suspect starting pitching.
The Padres took a flier on veteran right-hander Jake Arrieta (5-12, 7.13 ERA) after he was released by the Chicago Cubs in mid-August. They will activate him off the injured list prior to Friday’s game to make his second start for the team.
The first didn’t go well, as Arrieta allowed five runs and seven hits over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 18. He exited the game with a mild left hamstring strain and is now deemed ready to return.
Whether the 35-year-old Arrieta can be much help is debatable. Counting the one outing for the Padres, he has lost eight straight decisions.
Arrieta has pitched four innings or fewer in each of his past six starts.
Arrieta has made just one career regular-season appearance against Houston. He gave up three runs and four hits — including a homer to Jose Altuve — over 5 1/3 innings in a win in 2016. Michael Brantley is 4-for-8 with three walks against Arrieta.
Houston counters with right-hander Jose Urquidy (6-3, 3.38 ERA), who missed the past two months due to a shoulder injury.
Urquidy, 26, figures to be on a pitch count during his first major league outing since June 29. This is his first career appearance against the Padres.
“We missed Urquidy,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s one of the main guys on our pitching staff and it’s great to have him back.”
San Diego took two of three at Houston in late May.
–Field Level Media