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May 31, 2024 8:05 am

With Jeremiah Estrada in tow, Padres set for opener vs. Royals

Jeremiah Estrada

As the San Diego Padres arrive in Kansas City to begin a three-game series with the Royals on Friday night, all the buzz is about Jeremiah Estrada’s video-game like streak.

Indeed, striking out 13 consecutive batters — an expansion-era record — is part of his (video) game plan for the Padres’ right-handed reliever.

“The goal wasn’t to make the team,” Estrada said. “It wasn’t to make the All-Star team. It wasn’t to beat this record. All I was trying to do was get my rank up on my ‘MLB The Show’ card. That’s been the whole goal.”

Estrada’s consecutive strikeouts have come via a deadly combination of his upper-90s, four-seam fastball and a mid-80s splitter.

“This guy’s got an elite fastball,” Padres manager Mike Shildt said. “And now he’s got secondary pitches in the zone. It’s just a lethal combination.”

The Padres have won seven of their last nine series.

San Diego’s Dylan Cease (5-4, 3.29 ERA) will oppose Kansas City’s Michael Wacha (4-5, 4.31) on Friday in a battle of right-handers.

Friday’s outing will mark Cease’s 16th career start against the Royals, his most against any opponent. He is 5-4 with a 3.40 ERA in his career vs. Kansas City.

Cease allowed four runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings on Saturday in a 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees.

In seven career starts against San Diego, Wacha is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA. He last faced them in 2019.

Among Padres hitters, David Peralta has the most experience against Wacha but has just two hits in 18 at-bats, while two of Luis Arraez’s four hits have been home runs.

Wacha allowed two runs on three hits in six innings Sunday in a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday. He has not allowed more than two earned runs since May 4.

The Royals have answered a season-best eight-game win streak by losing four of their last five contests.

Right-hander Brady Singer was scratched from Thursday’s start in Minnesota due to illness, and Kyle Isbel missed two games after taking a foul ball to his face. Vinnie Pasquantino left Tuesday’s game after a collision at first base.

Singer is expected to make his next turn in the rotation, Isbel returned to the lineup Tuesday, and Pasquantino homered on Thursday.

More concerning for Kansas City is the loss of second baseman Michael Massey, who was placed on the injured list with a sprained ligament in his lower back.

Massey, who missed 19 games at the beginning of the year due to a lower back strain, had become an important element in stretching the Royals’ offense.

Massey homered in last Friday’s game against Tampa Bay before exiting. He was hitting .329 with six homers and 20 RBIs in his past 20 games.

“We’ve got to put him on a course to get better,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said.

“I’ve had this a lot and have pretty good experience with it,” Massey said. “(I) know when we need to go and when we need to pull the plug.”

–Field Level Media

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