Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Johnson, Jimenez look to spark seasons in opener

On Tuesday, Padres starter Erik Johnson will try to begin getting his 2016 season on the right track against Baltimore, which won't be an easy task for the 25-year-old right-hander.
Since the Padres acquired him from the White Sox on June 4, Johnson has posted a 9.82 ERA in three starts. His real problem has been the home run ball, allowing seven over his last 14 2/3 innings. Johnson faced the Orioles in his last outing as well, giving up six runs in a season-low four innings, including two home runs.
"He's run into a little bit of tough luck. If you look at his last outing, we didn't do some things defensively behind him that we should've done, in Baltimore, some balls found holes," Padres manager Andy Green said. "I think number one thing for him is we've got to keep the ball in the ballpark, give our defense an opportunity to make plays. If he does that, he's going to have the opportunity to be successful."
That's where things get difficult for Johnson facing the Orioles. Baltimore's offense is hitting home runs at a prolific rate, hitting 120 through its first 75 games, putting the team on pace to hit the third most in a season in Major League history.
Making things worse for Johnson, the O's bats have been doing much of their damage of late, with a Major League leading 48 homers in June, which is 41 percent of their season total. They're also hitting a league leading .298 this month.
Things to know about this game:
• The O's will counter Johnson with Ubaldo Jimenez (4-7, 6.97 ERA). Jimenez started out with a hot April for Baltimore, but he has an 8.44 ERA since May 1 with 30 walks over 48 innings. Jimenez is coming off of one of his better starts since April against the Padres, allowing two runs over six innings with seven strikeouts, although he did walk four batters, which ties his season high.
• Matt Kemp is expected to return to the Padres' lineup on Tuesday. The outfielder received a regular day of rest on Sunday against the Reds, just his third day off of the season and first since May 20, a game that saw him appear as a pinch-hitter. Kemp is hitting .337 in June with three homers but finished Saturday 0-for-4 and didn't reach base for the first time since June 10. Kemp is a career .341/.426/.610 hitter against Jimenez over 41 at bats.
• The Orioles were without their own Matt on Sunday, but catcher Matt Wieters should return to the lineup Tuesday. Wieters caught the second game of a double header Saturday and hit two homers, giving him nine on the season. Including Sunday, Wieters has had three of the last seven games off in the midst of a 14-game slump in which he hit .213 prior to Saturday's performance.

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