LA Dodgers (82-72) at San Diego Padres (61-94)

The Dodgers are 2.5 games back in the wild card race and every game is a must win for them. The Padres are playing to avoid a 100 loss season and see what the younger guys can do. The Padres lead the season series 9-6 and will need to win at least one game to assure themselves an overall winning record against the Dodgers for the season.

Game One

LHP Mike Bynum (0-3, 8.78) and LHP Odalis Perez (12-11, 4.35)

Dry your eyes, Padre fans; Kevin Jarvis is on the shelf for the rest of the season. Mike Bynum has been brutal so far this season. He did pitch 2.2 effective innings of relief against the Dodgers. As a lefty, Bynum has been given a long leash to try to nail down a future with the club. However, by allowing 13 BB and 13 HR in 27.2 IP, he has managed to hang himself with that same leash. Bynum has done nothing but solidify Kevin Towers need to acquire more pitching.

Perez missed his last start due to a broken nail. After calling out the hitters earlier in the season, it is time for Perez to step up. At times Perez will flash brilliance, and on other occasions he looks ordinary. Giles, Kotsay, and Nevin have all enjoyed success against Perez. Should Perez get a hang nail, look for 20 year old RHP Edwin Jackson (1-1. 2.08) to get the nod.

Game Two

RHP Jake Peavy (12-11, 4.21) and LHP Wilson Alvarez (6-1, 1.99)

Peavy was very effective in his last outing against the Giants. Peavy's nemesis has been the long ball. Everything the young right hander throws moves as was especially evident against the Giants. When Peavy is on, he is very aggressive in the zone and looks for outs early in the count. Unlike most young pitchers, Peavy would rather get one pitch outs than strikeouts.

Alvarez has not allowed an earned run in 22 consecutive innings and has looked like the guy that was the workhorse of the White Sox staff of the 90s, not the always injured and overpaid guy that he was with the Devil Rays. Alvarez did not pitch at all in the 2000 and 2001 seasons and has really stepped it up a level. If the Dodgers make the playoffs, they will have to thank Alvarez who has really pitched well down the stretch.

Game Three

RHP Ben Howard (1-3, 4.23) and RHP Kevin Brown (14-9, 2.43)

Howard was touched up a bit in Colorado. The 24 year old is still learning to pitch at this level and shows a lot of promise. Howard is supposed to be able to run it up there in the mid to upper 90s. However, fans have not seen that sort of velocity from him. My guess is that his hard stuff is pretty straight and he gets more movement when he takes a bit off.

If you go to the game on Wednesday, you will witness the quintessential love-hate relationship that Padre fans have with Kevin Brown. Brown is routinely booed when he returns to Qualcomm, yet was voted by the fans to the all time team. I know this act is decried by the local sportswriters. I believe Padre fans would have forgiven him long ago for leaving if he did not play for the hated Dodgers. By the way, Kevin Brown can still pitch, very well, I may add.

Game Four

RHP Brian Lawrence (9-15, 4.33) and RHP Hideo Nomo (16-12, 2.98)

BLaw pitched well in the rarified air of Coors Field. If you watched the game you know that he gave up 2 HRs one that was well struck off the bat of Preston Wilson and the other was a ball driven out by the wind. BLaw really had a tremendous game and really was never in trouble, which is hard to believe considering that no lead is safe in Colorado.

Nomo has struggled a bit down the stretch going 1-3 in his last four starts. His one win was against these Padres. Nomo is a gamer. He has been experiencing some shoulder pain that has caused him to miss a start but he has not gone on DL and may be hurting his teams chance to advance. Sean Burroughs loves to face Nomo. In fact, of Burroughs 8 career dingers, 2 have come off Nomo.

Hitters to Watch

Mark Loretta is easily the Padres MVP. Loretta needs only 3 more hits to pass Roberto Alomar for hits in a season by a second baseman. Loretta has 5 hitting streaks of 10 games or more, and is currently in an eleven game streak. His .989 fielding percentage leads NL second basemen. Loretta did take a trick hop ground ball off his throwing hand on Sunday, but he stayed in the game. I am glad we have this guy locked up the next 2 seasons because his presence is HUGE. Go Lo!

Dave Roberts has had an injury plagued season but has been doing well of late and always seems to play well in front of his hometown crowd. Roberts puts tremendous pressure on the defense with his ability to bunt and steal bases.

Other Notes

Former Friar Andy Ashby had Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2004 season. Khalil Greene is day-to-day after landing hard on his hip making a diving stop. Greene has played well enough to keep Kevin Towers from signing a big name free agent SS to a long-term deal. Save the money for the pitching staff, KT. If the Padres finish with the worst record in NL they will have the 1st pick overall in the 2004 draft. The Padres currently have a 2 game "advantage" over the Mets for the NL worst.

Fearless Prediction

The Padres will split the series to avoid a 100 loss season and Mark Loretta will pass Roberto Alomar.

Kim Lewis can be reached at

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