San Diego Padres (53-81) at Houston Astros (70-63)

The San Diego Padres travel to Houston with Brian Giles in tow. The Friars face a hot hitting team that has had to scramble for pitching with losses to some of their better arms, yet they remain in the hunt for the wildcard.

Game One

RHP Adam Eaton (7-9, 4.19) and LHP Jeriome Robertson (12-6, 5.02)

Eaton was terrific his last time out. He had a no-hitter going through 5 2/3 and allowed no runs over 7 1/3. Eaton was unable to get the win as Javier Vazquez was equally brilliant through 9. Eaton has not faced Houston since 2001. Jeff Kent has had the most success against Eaton (.375, 1 HR, 2 RBI). Anything can happen in the band box in Houston.

Robertson is a 26 year old left-hander that none of the Padres except Brian Giles have faced. If you look at Robertson's numbers, one wonders how he has posted a winning record. I have two words for you, run support. He averages 6.51 of runs per game in support, which is 4th most in the NL. He has allowed 148 hits in 132.2 IP and walked 50. He will not overpower guys, so the Padres need to show patience.

Game Two

RHP Kevin Jarvis (4-6, 5.33) and RHP Jared Fernandez (1-3, 5.40)

After going 4-0 in July, Jarvis has gone 0-4 in August. His most effective start of the month, he had 7 IP with 2 earned runs on August 19th. He needs to do what he did with the Mets and take a bit off his fastball to create more sink. His fastball is too flat to allow him to throw it repeatedly. If he misses a bit with his location, fans in the outfield will have many souvenirs.

Fernandez was called up at the beginning of August, and after his first outing he has struggled. His primary pitch in the past has been the knuckle ball. Fernandez was an undrafted free agent signed by Boston in 1994; he was with the Reds last season where the Padres faced him twice. The first time he was out dueled by BLaw, the second time he did not last until the 4th. The guys have to stay in their shoes and keep their bats back and let the ball come to them. Fernandez will struggle with control, so the Padres' hitters need to make him throw strikes.

Game Three

RHP Jake Peavy (9-10, 4.35) and LHP Ron Villone (6-2, 3.21)

In the only time that Peavy has pitched at Minute Maid Park, he was a tough luck loser as he allowed only 2 runs in 6 IP and the Padres lost that day, 2-1. Peavy got touched up for 6 runs in his shortest outing of the year, as he went only two innings. Jake has had had a tough time with the Snakes, and his troubles continued. If you looked at Peavy during the game he looked exhausted. The illness of his wife, Katie and being on the road for the first time since she took ill, had to weigh heavily on his mind. At last report Katie Peavy was still suffering from complex migraines as a result of viral meningitis. Padres' fans wish Katie Peavy a speedy and complete recovery.

It has been a long time since Villone was a San Diego Padre. Back in the day, he was reliever with a tremendous fastball, but control issues. In fact, 1999 was the first season that a team used him as a starter at the major league level. He has not always been successful as a starter. The Astros acquired him from the Diamondbacks in May and the Astros called him up in June and he has done quite the job. He has started 13 games, and Villone has given his team a chance to win every time but one.

Hitters to Watch

Brian Giles is the hitter to watch, if for no other reason than he is now in a Padre uniform. The other guy to watch is Sean Burroughs. Since moving to the leadoff spot he is hitting .550 with an on base percentage of .640 and a slugging percentage of .700 which means an OPS of 1.340. Nice.

Jeff Kent has faced the Padres quite a bit as a Giant and has had tremendous success. It will be interesting to see how he fares against us without the biggest Padre killer of them all, Barry Bonds.

Other Notes

In a tough season that the Padres and their fans have endured, the acquisition of Brian Giles has given us all a ray of hope for brighter days. Nobody wants to give up the potential of an Oliver Perez. However, many fans have tired of the word "potential". I go to a lot of Padres games and I hear all the time that the organization trades away its best players for "nothing" because it takes time for these deals to develop, if the player pans out at all. The Padres have traded for a bona fide star when nobody in their right mind would expect us to be buyers. I have listened to fans that are upset because we traded away a Mexican player that the Latino community could rally behind. Look at the attendance. Attendance is down more than 10%, not exactly an encouraging sign going into a new ballpark. Kevin Towers and Bruce Bochy are under tremendous pressure to win next season and I certainly do not envy their position. Best wishes to Ollie and Jason Bay, may they have long-term success. I also want to wish Rondell White well. I am glad that Rock made his first All Star appearance as a Padre. It takes skill to be an All Star player; it takes heart to be an All Star human being. Never underestimate the influence he had on Sean Burroughs success this season. FYI, I am not talking about the promise of a Rolex.

Kim Lewis can be reached at

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