Padres at Pirates Preview

Brian Giles returns to the city that made him an anonymous star.<br><br> Giles was traded to the San Diego Padres in August of last season in exchange for Jason Bay, Oliver Perez and Cory Stewart.

Game One
Brian Lawrence (5-2, 4.57) and Kris Benson (3-3, 4.64)

April was not kind to BLaw, but May has been a return to form as he even touched 90 mph on his fastball in his last outing. His slider has been sliding and his sinker has been sinking and BLaw has won three in a row. He has a 2.08 ERA for the month of May.

Kris Benson has yet to meet expectations since the Pirates made him the 1st overall pick of the 1996 draft. He has all the tools mid 90s fastball, slider, curve, change. What's missing? Command. 22 walks to 29 Ks are not acceptable for a power pitcher.

Game Two
Jake Peavy (3-2, 2.08) and Oliver Perez (3-1, 3.16)

Peavy battled through his last start but still managed to get the win. Peavy will turn 23 at the end of this month but his understanding of how to pitch far exceeds his years. He has really learned to use his change effectively while still throwing 94-95 when he needs to.

Perez may be lamented by Padre fans as the one that got away. The thing with Perez was the lack of control. Apparently he has figured it out, as he has only surrendered 8 walks in 42 2/3 innings pitched, while striking out 44, with 2 complete games. Padres fans can only hope to be able to re-acquire him when his agent, Scott Boras drives his price out reach for the cash strapped Pirates.

Game Three
Ismael Valdez (3-2, 3.89) and Ryan Vogelsong (1-3, 6.16)

Valdez has not been as sharp in his last 3 starts as he was in his first 3, but has still pitched well enough to win in 2 of the 3. He has been hanging some breaking balls that were hit out in the last couple of games.

Don't let Vogelsong's numbers fool you; he has really pitched well of late. While not dominating, he should have at least a couple of wins in there. He throws hard with a 96 mph fastball, but still doesn't strike out a lot of batters, which would tend to indicate that he is around the plate, without overwhelming movement.

Hitters to Watch
Mark Loretta went 0 for 12 during the Cubs series and the team was swept. Coincidence? Not likely. Loretta has become a quiet leader on and off the field. Craig Wilson has gotten off to hot start. He can hit the ball to all fields with power. If there is a weakness to his game is that he isn't very patient and doesn't draw a lot of walks.

Other Notes
David Wells was placed on the 15 day DL after severing a tendon in his non-throwing hand. Chalk this up to bizarre Padre pitcher injuries. Eaton stabbed himself in the belly a few seasons ago while opening a DVD and Peavy stepped on his open suitcase in the dark cutting his foot (didn't miss a start) while in New York. Hey Boomer, try not to sneeze. Justin Germano will be called up to take at least one of Wells starts.

I hope the Pirates media will let the Jason Kendall thing go. Another article by Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review quoted Kendall saying, "I signed to play here for a long time and I want to win here. In all honesty, I really could care less about the San Diego Padres. I don't look at the standings and follow them." Memo to Kendall and Pittsburgh sports writers there are only 2 guys in San Diego that think Jason Kendall is worth his bloated salary: Brian Giles and Kevin Towers. Fortunately, John Moores cut off KT's allowance.

It is interesting how winning changes things in San Diego. Padres' fans are getting fired up and didn't take kindly to some Cub fans that were being obnoxious. People were pelting this woman with peanuts every time she stood up (which was at any little thing). It wasn't the classiest thing I have ever seen, but it was probably far milder than the treatment a Padre fan would receive in Wrigley if acting that obnoxiously.

Kim Lewis can be reached at

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