The lone representative of the San Diego Padres in Miami on Tuesday night made the organization proud in his limited action on the field, pitching a 1-2-3 inning.
Brad Hand came into the All-Star game in Miami with a lot to prove. After being cut by the Marlins, the 27-year-old reliever flew under the radar in his first season and a half with the Padres. Now, baseball is at least more aware of the southpaw’s ability to come in out of the bullpen and pitch a strong inning or more.
On baseball’s biggest stage Tuesday night, Hand came in to a 1-1 game in the seventh, and recorded three straight outs when the National League really needed a strong inning to get back to work offensively.
The inning was especially important for the National League because it had just followed the bottom of the sixth, the inning in which Yadier Molina evened the contest with a solo shot.
Getting right back to work in the midst of all of the excitement of finally getting on the board isn’t easy. But the NL trusted Hand to pitch in this very difficult inning against three very capable hitters, two of which are hitting over .300 this season.
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Unfortunately for the NL, Hand and the rest of the pitching staff’s efforts didn’t pay off in the end, as Cano’s tenth inning homer propelled the American League to a 2-1 victory. But for Padres fans, seeing one of their very own cruise through an inning is satisfying.
Hand wasn’t the hero by any stretch, and was even on the losing team. With pitching dominating the game, the San Diego reliever is just one of many hurlers who turned in very solid brief performances Tuesday evening. Regardless, just getting into a game like this is an honor, and having such success even during a rough season for the Friars makes it all the more exciting.
The AL won for the 17th time in the last 21 seasons, but this year that means nothing. For Padres fans, there is a lot to be excited about with their All-Star in Hand, and a lot to have enjoyed seeing the rest of baseball’s best in a competitive extra inning exhibition contest. Now, it’s back to the grind.