It’s make-or-break time for the Padres

Let’s combine two of San Diego’s favorite things and see what happens.

Anyone for meshing where the surf meets the turf with the rubber hitting the road?

Del Mar is off and running and a peek at the bleary eyes in the cubicle next to you proves it. Opening day was an undeniable smash and in other news, the sun rose in the east.

The Padres have found a crucial starting gate as well. 

A first half which was a drag morphs into a second half starting tonight which could be delightful.

Really? A team which is 10 games back, eight games under .500 and buried in fourth place has a pulse?

Again, we lean on Del Mar or didn’t you notice Thursday’s winner in the second race: Always a Chance.

That’s what the Padres have, thanks to the unexplainable nuances of baseball.

They greet the Rockies tonight, a team they swept when last teeing off on Colorado’s stressed pitching staff. Could some home-cooking provide another series win?

Then it’s the Giants and what better way to collect swagger than thumping the world champs? It’s a challenge, but the Padres figure to miss Giants ace Matt Bumgarner.

The Fish are next and why not hook a sweep of the middling Marlins? Although San Diego likely won’t be as fortunate in missing their stud, Jose Fernandez.

It’s a 10-game set that sets up a two-week run where the disappointing Padres have to shine. If so, general manager A.J. Preller will pump the brakes on moving parts and maybe even add a piece or two.

Then again if the Padres play like the Padres — you know the drill — this homestand could be where the once-promising season went to die. It’s already on life-support and if San Diego doesn’t play with pride, it’ll be a parade of Padres hitting the exits.

Jason Shields starts tonight and will he get his ERA under 4.00. He’s paid like an ace — $75 million — and needs to produce like one.

If not, he could go like Jake Peavy. Remember when the former Padre and Cy Young Award winner signed the richest deal in franchise history and was nearly out the door before the ink dried?

The trouble with peddling Shields is it’s a market flooded with top-of-the line starters: Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and possibly David Price. When buyers kick Shields’ tires, they spot a 33-year-old chassis losing velocity and allowing home runs at an alarming rate. 

For roughly the same money, someone could snag a younger Hamels.

Then there’s Justin Upton and we hope he’s shed his latest swoon. If the Padres stumble, he could rumble up the I-5 as the Angels have sought a left fielder with some pop since Josh Hamilton was relieved of his duties.

Preller’s role is to look and listen. 

He hears what his bosses are saying, and that’s they’re not ready to be on the clock for the 2016 All-Star Game and the 2016 regular season at the same time.

What isn’t sustainable is the Padres standing pat with their play. They’re ranked 20th in runs scored, 19th in pitching and 18th in defense. No club has allowed more unearned runs (47) than the Padres.

Then again…

Just maybe Matt Kemp duplicates his stunning second-half of last year. Maybe Will Middlebrooks doesn’t duplicate his first half of this year. Maybe Derek Norris added back those 11 pounds he’s lost during the All-Star break and finds strength to carry on.

Wil Myers? Wouldn’t his athletic skill-set be a blessing if he can return from his balky wrist.

Maybe the pitchers keep their roll going and just like that, the Padres are relevant again.

That’s a lot of “ifs” but with it being the unpredictable nature of baseball, we offer one more.

What if the luck of the Irish smiles on the Padres as they start the second half, halfway to St. Patrick’s Day?

With an interim manager named Pat Murphy, it might be their best shot.


+ Contact Jay Paris at Follow him on Twitter @jparis_sports.



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