Padres’ Kelly wins MLB debut over Braves
SAN DIEGO (AP) — From his father sitting in the stands to his six strong innings to his single up the middle, it would have been hard for Casey Kelly to have a more impressive major league debut.
Kelly combined with three relievers on a four-hitter and Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer for the San Diego Padres, who beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0 on Monday night to extend their season-high streak to eight straight wins.
The 22-year-old Kelly was the key player among the four obtained from the Boston Red Sox in the trade for Adrian Gonzalez on Dec. 6, 2010.
What made it more than the usual dream come true was that Kelly’s father, Pat, was able to attend, along with about 25 other family members.
Pat Kelly is manager of the Billings Mustangs, the Cincinnati Reds’ rookie-level club. The Mustangs played in Ogden, Utah, on Sunday and were off Monday, allowing him to fly to San Diego and watch his son pitch. Monday was Pat Kelly’s 57th birthday
“It’s incredible that it happened, just it being his birthday and then them having an off day on the same day that I’m pitching,” Casey Kelly said. “That just doesn’t happen in baseball. So it’s really special that he got to be here to see it.”
“It was great to watch, but it’s tough being a dad,” Pat Kelly said. “I would much rather have been in the dugout. It was a little nerve-racking. He was fantastic. He had all his pitches working and he made quality pitches when he had to. It was fun to watch.”
Pat Kelly played in three games with Toronto in 1980. His career as a minor league manager — including with the Braves’ Triple-A club — allowed Casey to grow up around the game.
Kelly (1-0), promoted from Double-A San Antonio earlier Monday, allowed three hits in six innings, struck out four and walked two.
Kelly also got his first big league hit, a single up the middle with two outs in the fifth. The Padres loaded the bases before Chase Headley struck out.
Kelly allowed a double down the right-field line to Jason Heyward with two outs in the first and then got Chipper Jones to line out to Headley at third. Kelly walked Freddie Freeman leading off the second and then allowed Dan Uggla’s one-out single before retiring the next two batters.
The Braves hit into double plays in each of the next two innings, one of which was started by Kelly, and the right-hander then had a 1-2-3 fifth and sixth.
“It’s like a blur,” Kelly said. “They’re a great team. I had to keep the streak alive. I didn’t want to break up the streak or I might get sent down.”
Kelly was out from April 12-July 23 with a strained right elbow.
“It came quick,” Kelly said. “Just from the beginning of the year, my goal was to come up here. The injury was something that kind of put a hold on everything. I was just focused on coming back healthy and throwing good off the mound. Once I got the call I was very, very excited.”
Said Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez: “Casey was good. He kept his composure for a young kid. He did a nice job. He did a lot of good things. He gave them some innings to win the game.”
Grandal drove in all three runs for San Diego. He homered to left off Paul Maholm for a 2-0 lead in the second, his sixth. Carlos Quentin was aboard on a leadoff walk.
“I was trying to bounce it,” Maholm said. “It was in and was just up. He was able to get the barrel on it and capitalize.”
Grandal singled in Headley in the eighth inning before getting thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Luke Gregerson pitched the ninth for his second save in five chances.
Maholm (11-9) allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out five and walked one.
San Diego’s winning streak is its longest since April 16-24, 2010.
Padres manager Bud Black said Kelly was poised in his debut and will start again Sunday.
His father, meanwhile, will jump on a plane Tuesday morning and fly to Montana, arriving in Billings “just in time for batting practice.”
NOTES: To make room for Kelly, the Padres optioned RHP Brad Boxberger to Triple-A Tucson and transferred C Nick Hundley to the 60-day DL. Hundley is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday to repair torn a meniscus in his right knee. Hundley was placed on the DL on Aug. 17, retroactive to Aug. 16. He was batting .157 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 58 games with the Padres. He was optioned to Triple-A Tucson on June 30 and recalled Aug. 9. … The Padres reinstated RHP Dale Thayer from the paternity list and optioned LHP Josh Spence to Tucson. … The series continues Tuesday night when Atlanta’s Kris Medlen (5-1) is scheduled to start for the Braves against LHP Andrew Werner (1-0, 3.00), who is scheduled to make his second big league start.