Fore! Phillies-Padres might be par 3 contest

Roy Oswalt will start Thursday night's game in San Diego. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Waking up this morning, I saw something I never thought I'd see: a gray day in San Diego. Those who have visited SoCal know that the residents here exist in a perpetual bliss of mid-70's sun and little humidity. Allegedly, the clouds will part later this afternoon and the temperature will sit in the mid-60's for the rest of the weekend.

The Padres enter this four-game set at 8-10, while the Phillies salvaged a game against the Brewers to improve to 11-6.

A few random notes as you begin the long wait for a 10:05 p.m. start:

1) Below you will find a video that shows the time-lapse construction of a Taylor-Made golf club on the right field foul pole at Petco Park. It will be unveiled for the first time tonight. The promotion is appropriate, since this season the Padres appear to think the object of baseball is to finish with the lowest score.

If you think the offense has been bad in Philly, Bud Black would like to pull you aside for a quick conversation. The Padres have already been shutout four times, and have scored three or fewer runs on seven other occasions. Keep in mind they have only played 18 games. They enter this series hitting .222/.309/.334. Heading into the nightcap of yesterday's doubleheader against the Cubs, the Padres' .615 team OPS was lower than the OPS of all but one of the Phillies' eight regulars (Raul Ibanez at .583). Even now, their .643 OPS is surpassed by everybody except Ibanez and Jimmy Rollinz (.639).

That said, the Padres have faced a gauntlet of talented starters: Carlos Zambrano, Hiroki Kuroda, Jaime Garcia, Matt Garza, Edinson Volquez, Ted Lilly, Madison Bumgarner, J.A. Happ, Tim Lincecum, Crhis Carpenter, and Brett Myers.

They'll get Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Roy Halladay this weekend.

2) Since Aug. 26 of last season, when the Padres held a 6.5-game lead in the NL West, the Friars have posted a 16-31 record while averaging 3.0 runs in 55 games.

3) The Indians, at 13-5 and in first place in the AL Central, are one of baseball's biggest surprises through 18 games. The Phillies have a lot of links to Cleveland, with Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco over here and a slew of former Phillies over there:

Carlos Carrasco, RHP: Once the Phillies' top pitching prospect, he was traded to Cleveland in the Lee trade in 2009. Now 24, he is 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA, 5.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 26 innings over four starts this season.

Chad Durbin, RHP:
For much of the offseason, it looked like Durbin was going to return to the Phillies for a fourth season. But the two sides were unable to come together on a deal and he ended up signing with Cleveland for about $800,000. He has appeared in seven games thus far, allowing three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and four walks in 6 1/3 innings.

Lou Marson, C: He was a catching prospect when the Phillies shipped him to Cleveland in the Lee trade. He struggled offensively last season, but is 5-for-13 with three doubles, four RBI, five strikeouts and two walks while backing up Carlos Santana this year.

F Knapp was the one true blue-chip, high-ceiling prospect the Phillies parted with in the Lee trade. He has only made 13 starts since the deal, having undergone shoulder surgery at the end of the 2009 season. But he started nine games at the end of last season, striking out 47 and walking 12 in 28 1/3 innings with a 2.86 ERA. He experienced some shoulder fatigue at the end of last season and is currently in extended spring training. The Indians say they want to monitor Knapp's innings earlier in the season so that he can make it through an entire season healthy.

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