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Apr 1, 2024 8:21 am

Padres, packing a punch, welcome Cardinals

Ha-Seong Kim

Six games into a 162-game season, the San Diego Padres are showing the type of offensive punch they so often lacked last year.

Sunday’s 13-4 rout of the San Francisco Giants marked their second double-figure game and gave them 45 runs, an average of 7.5 runs per game. They collected five doubles and two homers in the first three innings alone.

San Diego will try to keep up that prodigious production Monday night when it welcomes the St. Louis Cardinals to town for the opener of a three-game series.

“Clearly, we got production from the whole lineup,” first-year Padres’ manager Mike Shildt said. “I love the fact that our bats started out good and were just relentless.”

As one might expect from a team leading the majors in runs, San Diego has gotten contributions up and down the lineup. Sunday featured No. 7 batter Luis Campusano cracking a three-run homer and knocking in four runs, as well as No. 5 hitter Ha-Seong Kim walloping a three-run shot of his own and collecting three hits.

All those runs have masked to an extent some concerns about starting pitching, which weren’t calmed much Sunday when Michael King couldn’t make it past four innings with a 12-0 lead because he walked seven and threw 88 pitches.

The Padres will hope for better length from No. 5 starter Matt Waldron, the only knuckleballer in the majors. He beat out Pedro Avila and Jhony Brito with good work in spring training after making his MLB debut last year, going 1-3 with a 4.35 earned run average in eight games, six of them starts.

One of those starts came late last season against St. Louis, when he allowed just one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings, although he didn’t get a decision.

The Cardinals arrive in San Diego after a difficult 5-4 loss Sunday at the Los Angeles Dodgers. St. Louis was in position to split its opening series of the season after taking a 4-0 lead in the sixth but its bullpen coughed up the lead, denying Steven Matz a win.

Matz’s 5 1/3 innings tied Zack Thompson for the longest stint any of the team’s four starters enjoyed in Los Angeles. That means the Cardinals could use a long outing from one of their free agent acquisitions, veteran right-hander Kyle Gibson, who gets the start Monday.

Coming off a 15-9 season in 2023 for the American League East champion Baltimore Orioles, Gibson would like to improve on his 4.73 ERA. He’ll make his sixth career start against San Diego, going 2-1 with a 4.28 ERA in the previous five and 1-0 with a 6.32 ERA in three outings at Petco Park.

St. Louis emerged from spring training feeling good about its prospects of bouncing back from a 71-91 record, its first losing season in 16 years and first 90-loss campaign since 1990. Manager Oliver Marmol said upon breaking camp in Florida that his team was right where he hoped it would be.

“The attention to detail all camp has been really, really high,” he said. “As a staff, we’re satisfied with what we have.”

–Field Level Media

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