Padres head to finish without Kemp, Justin Upton

Notes on bullpen, Cashner, Gale, Melvin Upton Jr.

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The Padres close the home season Thursday with corner outfielders Justin Upton and Matt Kemp both out of the lineup at the same time.

And the season will likely end that way this weekend at Dodger Stadium. The Padres announced on Thursday that Justin Upton suffered a neck strain Wednesday night when he slid head-first into the padded wall down the left-field foul line while chasing a hit in the first inning.

Overall, the news was good. Upton suffered no serious injuries. Extensive tests conducted Wednesday night showed no signs of a concussion or neurological injuries.

"It was scary," assistant general manager Josh Stein said early Thursday afternoon of Upton's collision. "He is doing better. He has soreness around the neck and behind his neck. But everything checked out neurologically. There are no signs of a concussion. He didn't lose consciousness."

However, it is highly unlikely that Upton will play again this season - leaving the Padres to finish the season without their middle-of-the order combination.

Kemp came out of Tuesday night's game with a sore right hand. Tests conducted Tuesday morning showed Kemp had suffered a strain and a partial tear to the middle finger on his right hand. Not only is he unavailable to play, the injury will take four to six weeks to fully heal.

That means the Padres lost their two biggest offensive weapons in a span of 24 hours.

Kemp finished the season with a .265 average, 23 homers, 100 RBIs, 80 runs scored and 12 steals.

Upton will likely finish the season hitting .251 with 26 homers, 81 RBIs, 85 runs scored and 19 steals.

Kemp and Justin Upton ranked 1-2 in some order this season in homers, RBIs, runs scored and steals. Kemp led the team in hits and Upton ranked third.

While Kemp will return to the Padres next season, Justin Upton is a free agent at the end of the season and likely has played his final game as a Padre.


-- Although the Padres are 3-5 going into the finale of their last homestand of the season, the bullpen has worked six straight scoreless games for the first time this season.

-- The Padres were shut out for the 19th time this season on Wednesday, meaning they didn't score a run for right-handed starter Andrew Cashner (6-16). Cashner finised the season with a 3.12 run support average, the 11th-lowest mark by a Padres starter since the data became available in 1974. Over his last 31 starts at Petco Park since June 23, 2013, Cashner has a 8-14 record despite a 2.43 earned run average.

-- Catcher Rocky Gale made his first Major League start Wednesday night and got his first Major League hit, a single off Brewers reliever Corey Knebel leading off the eighth inning.

-- Melvin Upton Jr. was 2-for-3 with a double Wednesday night and is hitting .287 (41-for-143) since July 7 with nine doubles, three triples and five home runs. He has raised his batting average from .152 to .254 during the surge.