While the final series of the season between the Giants and Padres will not have playoff implications for either team, that does not mean that the series opener is unimportant.
Padres right-hander Burch Smith is vying for a spot in next year's rotation. Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong might be another rough start away from free agency.
After going 27-16 over the past two years, Vogelsong is 3-6 this season with a 5.90 ERA. He has struggled to find consistency since recovering from a fractured right hand. In his past five starts, he has a 6.75 ERA and has allowed 37 hits in 26 2/3 innings.
Despite his affordable $6.5 million club option for 2014, Vogelsong understands that his overall performance this season might not warrant a rotation spot.
"If I was pitching better right now, that's probably not a question," Vogelsong said. "I still have a lot to bring to this game and bring to this team. I've told you guys before, I want to be back, and I hope they pick [the option] up. If they do, I'm going to be better next year, and if they don't, I'm going to be better next year. That's the only way I can go into the offseason. I don't think it's a secret that I love it here and I love the fans of San Francisco and I want to be back."
Smith will make his final start for the Padres this season before heading to the Arizona Fall League. He has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his three September starts, and another strong outing on Friday could help him make a case for a spot in the Padres' rotation next season.
"There's a delivery component he has to handle," manager Bud Black said. "He has to repeat it. I think sometimes he gets out of it and that leads to trouble. Repeating his delivery, his arm slot and release point. Those are things he has to work on. He's got a good arm though, and tomorrow in San Francisco will be good test for him before the Fall League."
Padres left-hander Eric Stults will oppose Giants righty Yusmeiro Petit on Saturday, and right-handers Tyson Ross and Matt Cain will face one another in the season-finale Sunday.
Padres: Gyorko continues to impress
Jedd Gyorko is not yet a household name, but he's having a noteworthy rookie season at second base for the Padres.
Gyorko's 21 homers this season lead all Major League rookies and are tied with Alexei Ramirez's rookie campaign in 2008 for the third most by a first-year second baseman. Only Dan Uggla (27 in '06) and Joe Gordon (25 in 1938) have hit more.
"I probably have the most at-bats too, so I should be up there in the lead, but it's satisfying to be there," Gyorko said. "We still have a couple more games left, though, and they all still count, so I'm going to go out there and try to help win them all."
• Padres first baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks was left out of San Diego's lineup on Thursday with nagging Achilles and shoulder discomfort.
Giants: Team pledges heightened security following fan's death
The Giants observed a moment of silence before Thursday night's game at AT&T Park to honor the memory of Jonathan Denver, a 24-year-old Dodgers fan who was stabbed to death in a fight about a half-mile from the ballpark following Wednesday night's Giants-Dodgers game.
"We were deeply saddened to learn of last night's horrific incident that occurred several blocks from the ballpark and resulted in the tragic death of 24-year old Jonathan Denver," the Giants said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."
The club also said in the statement that it will work with the San Francisco Police Department to "step up enforcement in and around the ballpark [Thursday] and throughout the rest of this final homestand."
• Third baseman Pablo Sandoval was scratched from Thursday's lineup with flu-like symptoms and replaced by Nick Noonan.
• Sunday's series finale will be third time in five years that the Giants have faced the Padres in the final game of a season.
• The Padres went to extra innings for the 15th time this season on Thursday, improving to 8-7 with a 3-2 win over the D-backs.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.