A general view of Alfredo Harp Helu Stadium on April 19, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
When the San Francisco Giants meet the San Diego Padres tomorrow, it will be the first time that a Major League Baseball regular season game is played in Mexico City.
It will also be the first MLB regular season game played at an altitude of 7,320 feet – more than 2,100 feet of elevation higher than Coors Field in Denver, the highest ballpark in the majors, and more than 6,100 feet higher than Chase Field in Phoenix, the second-highest.
Both the Giants and the Padres are off on Friday, having traveled to Mexico City following Thursday’s games, where the Giants lost 6-0 at St. Louis and the Padres lost 5-2 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Both games were played Thursday afternoon, and the Padres had an approximately 4 1/2 hour flight, while the Giants were in the air for about an hour less.
The Padres come in with a record of 13-14, having struggled early this season, having lost four of their last five series leading into the two-game set with San Francisco.
Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to the Padres’ lineup on April 20 after serving an 80-game suspension for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy. In seven games since returning. Tatis has been off to a slow start, with just seven hits and two walks in 33 plate appearances, with one home run.
Behind him in the San Diego lineup is outfielder Juan Soto, who has largely been a disappointment since being traded to San Diego from Washington. Since the trade, Soto has been something of a disappointment in Southern California. He’s batting just .183/.345/.344 in 2023, with 17 hits, four homers and 23 walks in 93 at-bats.
The Giants come in having won five of their last six games starting with a pair of wins last weekend against the Mets at CitiField and their first three games at St. Louis early in the week before dropping the finale of the four-game set against the Cardinals yesterday.
Thairo Estrada has swung a hot bat for the Giants so far this year, posting a .326/.379/.505 slash line with four homers and 31 hits, and Mike Yastrzemski and J.D. Davis are tied for the team lead in homers with five apiece. Yastrzemski is batting .292 for the season with a .884 OPS, his batting average hampered by 26 strikeouts in 89 at-bats.
On Saturday, Joe Musgrove will start for the Padres against the Giants’ Sean Manaea. Musgrove has made one start thus far this season, going five innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks last Saturday, allowing seven hits, five runs and striking out six after returning from the Injured List following a fracture left big toe. Manaea has made three starts thus far this season, posting a 6.53 ERA over 16.1 innings of work, allowing 14 hits, 12 earned runs, and striking out 18.
Alex Cobb will start for San Francisco on Sunday, facing Yu Darvish, who is projected to start for San Diego. Cobb has a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 innings of work across five starts this season, and has allowed just seven hits, four walks and six earned runs while striking out 26. Darvish has a 3.00 ERA across four starts, allowing 15 hits, 12 walks, and eight earned runs across 24.0 innings of work.
The 2023 MLB Mexico City Series is the first time that the Giants have ever played a Major League Baseball regular season game outside of the United States, but the same can’t be said for the Padres. San Diego has previously played seven home games at Estadio Mobil Super in Monterrey, Mexico, home of the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol’s Monterrey Sultanes. In August 1996, the Swinging Friars took two of three there from the New York Mets, and returned in 1999 for a single game to open the season against the Colorado Rockies. In 2018, the Padres hosted the Dodgers for a three-game set in Monterrey, losing two-of-three.
A Mexico City Series featuring the Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks was originally scheduled for April 2020, but was canceled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The San Diego Padres will face the San Francisco Giants at 6:05 p.m. EDT Saturday and 4:05 p.m. EDT on Sunday. Both games will be televised on MLB Network as well as on NBC Sports Bay Area and Bally Sports San Diego. Live updates will also be available via World Baseball Network’s GameCast feature.