Two of baseball’s top stars will be on the field again Saturday night when the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels complete a two-game set in Anaheim, Calif.
National League MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres will look to lead his team to a series sweep, while American League MVP favorite Shohei Ohtani will aim to help the Angels salvage a split.
The Padres prevailed 5-0 on Friday night in the first regular-season meeting of the season between Tatis and Ohtani. Tatis went 2-for-5 while Ohtani was hitless in four at-bats — flying out three times and grounding out once against San Diego right-hander Joe Musgrove, who pitched a three-hitter.
Although Ohtani leads the majors with 41 homers, his blast in Thursday’s 13-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles was only his fourth in August. He is batting just .214 (18-for-84) with seven RBIs this month.
Ohtani wasn’t the only hitter to struggle against Musgrove, who struck out nine and walked only two.
In fact, Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon pointed to Musgrove as the reason why his team’s attack was so feeble. The Angels have lost three in a row and six of their past seven. Los Angeles has been shut out twice and has scored just once three other times during the seven-game stretch.
“That was all Musgrove’s fault. I’ve seen him before with Pittsburgh,” said Maddon, who formerly was manager of the Chicago Cubs while Musgrove was on the Pirates. “That was the best version of him, too. I’ve never seen him that good. He had everything going.”
Meanwhile, the Padres snapped a four-game slide and won for just the third time in their past 15 games.
San Diego is two games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the race for the second NL wild-card spot, and Musgrove said Friday’s win could be remembered as a big one.
“We’re fighting and clawing. This team has no quit,” he said. “Things haven’t been going our way, but hopefully this can be a turning point and we beat up on these guys a little bit and start turning this thing around.”
Getting Tatis to heat back up would be a help. The two-hit outing was his first since Aug. 15, the memorable day in which he came off the injured list from a shoulder injury to play the outfield and went 4-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs in a victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But Tatis fell into a 4-for-36 funk in which he hit two homers and struck out 14 times. He bottomed out against the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week by going 1-for-14 — the hit was a homer — with seven strikeouts as San Diego was swept in a three-game set.
Padres outfielder Wil Myers (hamstring) has missed back-to-back starts but could be available off the bench or as a designated hitter on Saturday.
Angels star Mike Trout (calf injury) aggressively ran the bases before Friday’s game. When cleared to play again, he is expected to go on a brief minor-league rehab stint before being activated.
Left-handers Ryan Weathers (4-6, 5.27 ERA) of the Padres and Jose Suarez (5-7, 4.06) of the Angels will square off Saturday night. It will be both pitchers’ first time facing the opponent.
Weathers has dropped his past four decisions. The 21-year-old rookie took the loss in two innings of relief in last Sunday’s setback against the Philadelphia Phillies, giving up three runs and five hits.
Suarez has lost three straight starts and five of his past six. The 23-year-old has a 6.21 ERA during the stretch.
Suarez lost to the Cleveland Indians last Sunday after surrendering three runs and six hits over four innings.
Austin Nola (one homer) and Tommy Pham are both 2-for-2 against Suarez.
–Field Level Media