Saturday's matchup in Miami features two of the National League's hottest starting pitchers in recent weeks, the Padres' Eric Stults and the Marlins' Jacob Turner.
While Stults carries a 6-5 record and 3.20 ERA on the season, he has not allowed more than two earned runs in a start since May 24, a stretch that spans his past six starts.
During that time, the Padres have mirrored his resurgence: San Diego was five games under .500 and in fourth place in the National League West on May 24. On Friday, they reached the .500 mark and pulled within 2 1/2 games of first-place Arizona.
"Stults has been, over the last six weeks, probably as steady as any Major League pitcher," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Like a lot of our starters, got off to a little bit of a slow start the first three or four starts in April. But since then, he's been pretty solid, not unlike stretches last year for us where he was arguably our best pitcher.
"He's been steady. He's been dependable. He's throwing strikes. He's not beating himself. He's doing all the things you ask starting pitchers to do. He goes to the post. He's pitching six, seven, into the eighth inning. So, very happy with how he's throwing the ball."
Black can also be happy with the performance Edinson Volquez gave the team in Friday's 9-2 series-opening win. Volquez lasted six innings while allowing just two runs and striking out eight. With the outing, Volquez moved to 6-0 with a 2.37 ERA in his career against Florida-based teams.
For Miami, Turner has contributed to a much-improved starting rotation in recent weeks. He has been a workhorse for manager Mike Redmond, pitching through the seventh inning in three of five starts. He has been at his best at home, with a 1-0 record and 1.93 ERA.
"I've been making those adjustments in starts," he said. "I'd say out of the starts I've had, I'd say maybe there has been one or two where I've felt everything is clicking. The other ones, I've felt like, 'Hey, this is working, maybe this isn't working.' I've been able to make the adjustments, or being able to see what's working on this particular day, and sticking with that game plan. I've been happy with that.
"I think whenever you start pitching well, you get that confidence back."
Turner has not pitched well in all of 2013. He acknowledges that it took time to regain his confidence after a miserable Spring Training, during which he posted an 0-3 record and 9.69 ERA and did not make the Marlins' 25-man roster to start the season.
"In Spring Training, it was tough with the way I was throwing, to be pitching with a lot of confidence when you're struggling as much as I was," Turner said. "I feel like I've gotten all of that back. I'm comfortable with the way I'm feeling on the mound, both mechanically and just going right after hitters. That's always been my strength. It was nice to get back to that."
Marlins: Ruggiano expected back Saturday
Justin Ruggiano is expected to return to Miami's starting lineup and play left field Saturday. Ruggiano has been hampered by a strained left shoulder. He did not start Friday, and because the team was off Thursday, he had two days to rest his left shoulder.
Ruggiano normally starts against lefty pitching, and San Diego is starting southpaw Eric Stults on Saturday. He has been featured as Miami's leadoff hitter recently, as four of his last five starts have come from the top of the Marlins' lineup.
Ruggiano is hitting .228 with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs this season.
Padres: Offense comes to life
San Diego blasted Miami pitching for nine runs on 15 hits in Friday's 9-2 victory.
Logan Forsythe went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run, and Will Venable finished with a 3-for-5 line and three RBIs. Five Padres hitters recorded multiple hits, and only two starters went hitless.
For San Diego, it marked just the second time since May 25 that the club scored nine times. The last time was a 10-9 loss in Colorado on June 7.
The Padres entered the series ninth in the National League in batting average, eighth in home runs and 11th in slugging percentage.
• Tyson Ross has 20 strikeouts in his first 16 relief appearances since joining the Padres' bullpen. He allowed at least one earned run in just three of those outings, and he has a 1.65 ERA as a reliever.
• Kyle Blanks is hitting .296 (29-for-98) with 16 runs scored, seven doubles, five homers and 18 RBIs in 25 games in June. The Padres are 26-18 in games he has started.
• The Marlins have been outscored by 20-3 in four losses this year to the Padres.
• Giancarlo Stanton is batting .333 with five doubles, five home runs and 15 RBIs at home this year.