Padres News: Familiar Faces Square Off for Braves/Padres


The Braves and Padres squared off on Monday night, but without a scorecard you may not know who is who exactly. For the first time in years, the Padres were the ones who made the big off-season acquisitions while the Braves were primarily sellers as they gear up for a new stadium in nearby Cobb County.

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While you might say that former Braves Justin Upton, Melvin Upton Jr.and Craig Kimbrel saw a lot of  familiar faces across  the diamond, that wasn’t exactly the case. Looking at the Braves lineup, they had a makeover as dramatic as the Padres but mostly to fill up on prospects in the minor leagues. They traded their entire starting outfield including the Uptons and Jason Heyward, 2B Tommy La Stella to the Cubs and C Evan Gattis to Houston. Out with set-up man Jordan Walden to St. Louis as part of the J-Hey trade as well. Ironically Melvin was activated before the game for his first game of the Padres and tied the game as a pinch runner in the 9th.

On the Padres side, the only starters they returned from last year were 2B Jedd Gyorko and 1B Yonder Alonso. So it is tough to think there was a lot of familiarity except for the guys that were traded for each other and of course Bud Black. Former Padre Eric Stults started with the Braves this season but was recently released and picked up by the Dodgers. Cameron Maybin has done a great job for the Braves providing consistency in center field that “B.J.” never provided in 2 years and made a nice running catch. Former Padres farmhand Jace Peterson earned the Braves starting second baseman job in spring training and is doing well with his opportunity after not quite seizing it with the Padres last season. Maybin is hitting near .300 and Peterson has batted lead-off hitting .269.

Still, it was a weird feeling for Craig Kimbrel to be the visitor in the stadium he had pitched for his entire career and grew up going to cheering for the Braves:

“Atlanta gave me an opportunity to play in the big leagues, I think every kid dreams of playing in the big leagues, and me, as a kid, it was here in Atlanta. I grew up a Braves fan, so having that opportunity in the first part of my career to do that is pretty special. I still love a lot of the guys over there and I still have kept friendships with the guys, and guys in the front office. So bitterness? No. But when I get out there and pitch tonight, it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Jun 8, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) celebrates a victory with catcher

Derek Norris

(3) against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. The Padres defeated the Braves 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

In a game which Braves starter Shelby Miller pitched another stellar game quickly validating the trade of fan favorite Jason Heyward, he stands at 5-2 with a 1.89 ERA. His bullpen though couldn’t hold the lead as the Padres tied it in the 9th off Jason Grilli. Braves fans could only watch Kimbrel sitting in the bullpen in the visitors side and think of better days. Kimbrel got his chance and pitched a perfect 11th for his 14th save. He ended the game with a signature Kimbrel-esque strikeout. It was his 200th career save. He is the all-time Braves saves leader with 186. Unfortunately for him he has a ways to go to be the Padres all time leader, of course held by Trevor Hoffman at 552. Second place is close though with Heath Bell holding it down at 134 saves. Only 121 more to go.

It was a fun game all around, with the Padres bullpen pitching 6 scoreless relief innings and the Braves bullpen unable to finish the final two innings after Shelby Miller allowed just 1 run through 7.

Now that the meet and greet with the players and fans is over, it’s back to the grind of baseball. The Padres climbed back over .500 while the Braves dropped 3 games below.

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