For the next three days, the host San Diego Padres will be looking across the field at Petco Park with a touch of jealously.
Yes, the opponent for the three-game series will be the Philadelphia Phillies, the team that defeated the Padres in the National League Championship Series last season. San Diego was stopped short of a World Series opportunity it believed it could win.
But it's not just that.
With 26 games to play, the Phillies (75-61) are closing in on another wild-card berth. They hold a 5 1/2-game lead over the four teams tied for the third and final NL wild-card spot.
Philadelphia is in a position the Padres thought they would be in last spring. Actually, San Diego likely thought it could replace the Los Angeles Dodgers atop the NL West and skip the wild-card theatrics.
Then the season hit ... and the Padres (65-73) hit the skids, literally and figuratively.
Even after winning three straight from the struggling San Francisco Giants at home, the Padres are the same 5 1/2 games below the cut-off line that the Phillies are above it. Is there a chance, as impossible as it seems?
"The last three games have been very good," Padres manager Bob Melvin said Sunday. "Maybe there's a little."
Momentum? Hope? A remote shot of a miracle?
The Padres will look for a breakthrough Monday — a fourth straight win for the first time this season.
Walker, 31, has struggled recently. He had a 4.76 ERA and a .267 opponents' batting average in four August starts, and he even had one start skipped by Phillies' manager Rob Thomson.
"I thought he was good," Thomson said of Walker on Aug. 22 when he held the Giants to three runs in five innings after not pitching for 10 days. "The velocity was pretty good. The splitter was effective, and he threw strikes for the most part."
"After 10 days of not pitching, I was out of whack a little bit," Walker said. "But I felt a lot better."
Walker faced the Padres on July 15 and got the win in the second game of a doubleheader sweep, holding San Diego to two runs (one earned) on three hits in five innings to improve to 11-3. The Phillies won the final three contests of a four-game series.
Walker is 4-3 in eight career starts against the Padres with a 2.51 ERA and a .178 opponents' batting average with 37 strikeouts against 13 walks in 43 innings.
Hill, 43, picked up a no-decision in his only start against Philadelphia this season. He held the Phillies to two runs on five hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in five innings on July 30.
Hill is 2-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 10 career appearances (seven starts) against the Phillies.
—Field Level Media