The Rockies and Dodgers happen to be the closest challengers to National League West-leading Arizona, which makes the Diamondbacks' series finale against the Padres Sunday afternoon something of a "must win."
Arizona's lead over Colorado was reduced to a half-game Saturday night and the Dodgers are two games back of the Diamondbacks. Arizona blew leads of 3-0 and 5-3 and lost on walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth when Christian Villanueva hit a pinch hit single.
Right-hander Zack Greinke gets the task of getting the Diamondbacks back on track Sunday while pitted against Padres' rookie right-hander Brett Kennedy.
On paper, this seems like a mismatch:
Greinke is 12-8 this season with a 3.00 ERA in 25 starts. He is also 11-2 in his career against the Padres with a 2.10 ERA.
Kennedy is 0-2 in his two major league starts since being promoted from Triple-A El Paso on Aug. 5, the day after his 24th birthday. He has worked a total of nine innings in those two starts, allowing 11 runs on 20 hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Kennedy, who was 10-0 with a 2.72 ERA in 16 Pacific Coast League starts, has an 11.00 ERA, a 2.33 WHIP and a .465 opponents' batting average in his 14-day major league experience.
Plus, even with Saturday night's loss, Arizona is 5-1 at Petco Park this season and 9-4 overall against the Padres with one more set of a home-and-home series to play against the National League West tail-enders before the season ends.
Still, the Diamondbacks have only one game to play against the Padres over the next week while the Rockies and Dodgers each have three and on their home turf.
Of course, the Diamondbacks have Greinke going for them Sunday. And Greinke has been hot lately. Over his last 11 starts since June 18, Greinke is 7-3 with a 1.99 ERA -- allowing 16 earned runs in 72 1/3 innings with an opponents' batting average of .206.
Sunday will be Greinke's third start against the Padres this season and his second straight at Petco Park. On July 27, Greinke held the Padres to one run on six hits and no walks with six strikeouts over seven innings to earn the win in the Diamondbacks' 6-2 triumph.
Greinke is 7-5 on the road this season with a 3.70 ERA in 12 starts. He has allowed 74 hits and 11 walks with 69 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings on the road for a .255 opponents' batting average and a 1.13 WHIP.
Over his career at Petco Park, Greinke is 5-2 with a 1.77 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and a .194 opponents' batting average. Overall, his 11-2 record in 21 starts against the Padres also includes a 0.93 WHIP and a .202 opponents' batting average.