"I wish I could make something of it, other than you want to stop it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I've seen it for two years. They hit better than us, they pitch better than us, they field better than us, overall. That pretty much explains it, and I don't know the reason why."
Whatever the reason, the fact is that Pittsburgh can not solve the Padres' puzzle. San Diego has won 17 of the last 20 matchups between the squads dating back to September 2009, and in that span, the Padres have outscored the Pirates, 129-72. The Padres had an 11-game winning streak at PNC Park snapped in the series finale there earlier this month, and San Diego has a 15-6 record against the Bucs at Petco Park since 2006.
It's not that the Padres have been a particularly dominant squad since 2009. Currently in fourth in the National League West, San Diego has only finished higher than that or with a winning record in one season since '09. The Padres have a combined 291-320 record since the beginning of 2009 coming into Wednesday, which is better than the Pirates' 258-350 record in that time.
And while the fact that the Padres have not necessarily been in the midst of stellar seasons during their recent run of domination over the Pirates may lead one to believe Pittsburgh lets down its guard when playing San Diego, Hurdle doesn't believe that's the case.
"We don't take them lightly. We didn't take them lightly this year, we didn't take them lightly last year," Hurdle said. "They've just been a very formidable opponent for us. They've got some good things going on over there."
"It's one of those things you can't really explain," veteran first baseman Garrett Jones said. "For whatever reason, they step it up when they're playing us. They step it up, play good baseball, get timely hits, their pitchers pitch well, and they keep us at bay."
Wednesday will be the last chance for Pittsburgh to strike some measure of revenge on San Diego this season, and whatever the outcome, Hurdle and his Pirates won't be too sad to say goodbye to the pesky Padres until 2013.
"The team we're facing tonight has provided us nothing but troubles, as people keep reminding me," Hurdle said. "I don't know the reason why."