Georgia native David Hale had a Major League debut to remember tonight. Hale, pitching in Paul Maholm’s rotation spot, pitched 5 scoreless innings and set a Braves franchise record for strikeouts in a debut with 9. He only gave up 4 hits and walked one. Unfortunately, he was denied his first Major League victory when the vaunted Atlanta bullpen uncharacteristically blew the 3 run lead that Hale handed over to them.
The Braves took their 3-0 lead into the 7th, but Luis Ayala gave up 3 consecutive singles, none of which were actually hit hard, to start the inning. Luis Avilan proceeded to enter the game after that and gave up another single and a sac fly to cut the Braves lead down to 3-2, before David Carpenter came in to end the scoring threat. Jordan Walden gave up a solo home run to Chase Headley leading off the 8th inning to tie the game at 3 and walked another before being lifted for Scott Downs. Downs then gives up the lead on a blooper to center and the Padres took a lead that their bullpen would not relinquish. Fredi Gonzalez deserves some of the blame tonight for his mismanagement of the bullpen. He decided to use 5 pitchers to get the 6 outs in the 7th and 8th innings. Don’t over think it Fredi.
The Braves offense decided that they only wanted to play one inning tonight. In the 4th Justin Upton lead off the inning with his 25th home run of the season, and Brian McCann hit a towering 2 run bomb to right to give the Braves their temporary 3-0 lead. It was McCann’s 20th home run of the season, the 6th 20 homer season of his career. The Padres pitching retired the last 11 Braves hitters of the game.
Stay tuned for game two on Saturday when Kris Medlen takes the mound for Atlanta.