On August 25, the San Diego Padres were the class of the National League. They were 76-50 and had a six game lead over the San Francisco Giants. The Padres were the surprise team of baseball, picked by most experts to finish in fourth in the NL West. 

Led by young starting pitching and a reliable closer in Heath Bell, the Padres had led the division a majority of the season. Manager Bud Black had done a phenomenal job with the club and was the front-runner to win NL Manager of the Year. 

On this night they would opening a three game set at home against the defending NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies had been hot for the past month until falling flat and being swept in four games at home to the Houston Astros. 

When all was said and done, the Phillies swept the Padres in the three game series. Little did anyone know at the time was that these two teams would basically go in opposite directions in the next month. 

While Philadelphia would vault their way to the top of the standings, San Diego would enter into a tailspin. They would go on to lose their next ten games and still remained in first place. However, the Padres have only gone 12-11 since their 10 game slide while the Giants have gone 15-7 thanks to some fantastic pitching, including a stretch of 18 games of not allowing more than three runs. 

The Padres don’t have the dynamic offenses of the Phillies or Reds, but they were supported by young starters Mat Latos, Clayton Richard, and Jon Garland. The trio have struggled in their past 15 decisions, going 3-12. Latos has seen his ERA rise from a pristine 2.21 to 2.92 in the past month. The Padres were carried by these three for most of the year, but just don’t have the offensive support outside of Adrian Gonzalez

Speaking of Gonzalez, he was a sleeper MVP candidate midway through the season and right before the losing streak, hitting .299 with 27 HR and 86 RBI. Expected to be traded by the deadline since the Padres weren’t supposed to contend, Gonzalez has been the catalyst for an otherwise quiet offense. 

While Gonzalez has continued to flirt with a .300 batting average, his power has somewhat declined over the past 30 games, hitting only three home runs and driving in just 12 runs. Gonzalez recently attributed this to a shoulder injury he suffered back in May. He has been shortening his swing. It has kept his average up, but his power has declined. It was only apparent in the final month. 

Despite the Padres 10 game losing streak, the Padres had ample opportunities to keep their lead over the Giants during the course of the month. However, they dropped three of four at home to San Francisco, on the road in St. Louis, and once again at home to the Chicago Cubs.

Down three games to the Giants and two games in the Wild Card to Atlanta in the division, San Diego has a slim chance to make the playoffs if they can sweep the Giants or take two out of three and hope the Braves drop some games to Philadelphia. 

Can the Padres make the playoffs? When they lost ten straight the odds started stacking up against them. Only two teams have made the playoffs while losing ten straight games: the 1951 Giants and the 1982 Braves, ironically the two team they are currently chasing. 

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