Solid starting pitching and an improved offense have the Arizona Diamondbacks just off the NL West lead.
The Diamondbacks could take over that spot with some help and another victory over the division's worst team.Rookie Tyler Skaggs gets the ball Saturday night when Arizona goes for its third straight series win at home over the San Diego Padres.With Randall Delgado throwing a three-hitter and seven Diamondbacks finishing with at least two hits, Friday's 10-0 victory was one of the most well-rounded of the season for Arizona (54-49).It also tied for the Diamondbacks' third-most lopsided victory over the Padres (46-58), who held Arizona to six total runs in a three-game June sweep in San Diego.The Diamondbacks remained a half-game behind the West-leading Dodgers.Arizona's starters have a 1.30 ERA in winning three of four, and the club has totaled 29 runs and 50 hits during that stretch. The Diamondbacks' rotation had a 4.78 ERA while the team plated 22 total runs in its previous eight contests.Not everything went Arizona's way Friday, as second baseman Aaron Hill left after two innings with right hamstring tightness. Hill, who missed more than two months earlier this season with a broken hand, was just starting to find his hitting stroke, going 4 for 6 with a homer and three doubles in the last two contests.Manager Kirk Gibson told the team's official website Hill would sit Saturday, but Hill isn't so sure."That's debatable," he said. "I haven't got to argue my case yet."Miguel Montero likely will return behind the plate to catch Skaggs (2-2, 4.11 ERA) after missing the last four games with a stiff back.Skaggs, however, has been struggling to keep the ball in the park. He was tagged for two homers for the third time in five starts in Monday's 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs."I left a few up in the zone," he told the Diamondbacks' official website after giving up three runs over six innings. "A few pitches weren't where I wanted them to be, and they got hit out of the yard."He's had two balls leave the yard in his two previous starts against San Diego, but those were far from his only problems. Skaggs lasted a combined eight innings in those September outings, allowing nine runs and 16 baserunners.The Padres will counter with Andrew Cashner (6-5, 3.84), who comes in off his first win in nearly six weeks. San Diego had dropped five straight with the right-hander on the mound before he held the Brewers to three runs and three hits over six innings in a 5-3 road victory.Manager Bud Black was encouraged with how Cashner controlled his slider and settled down after allowing two first-inning runs."To bring that (pitch) into his arsenal will help him in the second half," Black told the Padres' official website.Cashner is 1-0 with a 3.44 ERA in four starts against Arizona.The Padres, who have split the first eight games on a trip that ends Sunday, have dropped five of seven visiting the Diamondbacks since a 7-0 run in the desert.
Opponents are 3-for-38 (.079) with 20 strikeouts in at-bats ending against Tyler Skaggs' curveball this season. Padres hitters have the most strikeouts in the league against curveballs from left-handers.