SAN DIEGO – The Braves’ bullpen shuffle continued Monday when they optioned right-hander John Gant back to Triple-A Gwinnett and recalled Casey Kelly, who arrived in San Diego for the series opener against the Padres late Monday at Petco Park.
This was notable for two reasons: 1. Kelly made his major league debut at Petco as a 22-year-old on Aug. 27. 2012, when he pitched six scoreless innings of three-hit ball for the Padres in a win against the Braves. And, 2. The Braves beat the Padres the next day and hadn’t won a game in San Diego since.
Yes, the Braves lugged a 10-game Petco Park losing streak into Monday’s series opener.
As for Kelly, a former Red Sox shortstop prospect who began pitching in his second minor league season in 2009, the game against the Braves in 2012 remained the highlight of his major league career, and his only scoreless outing in 12 major league games (nine starts) over parts of three seasons before Monday.
He went 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA in six starts in 2012, then didn’t pitch again in the majors until 2015. The Padres sent him to the Braves with minor league catcher Ricardo Rodriguez in a December 2015 trade for catcher Christian Bethancourt.
Kelly, now 26, had a 2-7 record and 6.02 ERA in the majors before Monday, including 2-6 with a 6.65 ERA in nine starts and a 3.00 ERA in three relief appearances. He was 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA in three games (one start) this season for the Braves, and had a 2.82 ERA in eight games (six starts) at Gwinnett.
The last time the Braves won at Petco, Kris Medlen pitched eight scoreless innings and Chipper Jones and Dan Uggla drove in the only two runs of the game, Uggla on a home run. That was Aug. 28, 2012, and the Braves had a 74-56 record at that time on their way to a 94-win season and wild-card berth.
The Braves lost the next day in San Diego, with Tommy Hanson getting the decision. They were swept in a three-game series the following season at Petco, with rookie Julio Teheran, Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm taking the losses.
When they were swept in San Diego in 2014, the Braves’ decisions went to Mike Minor, Craig Kimbrel and David Hale. And when they returned in 2015 for another sweep, the Braves’ losses went to Williams Perez, Matt Wisler and Matt Marksberry.
Ten straight losses at San Diego, a streak the Braves were trying to end late Monday when Perez got the start in the opener of a three-game series. Rookie Aaron Blair starts Tuesday and Teheran on Wednesday.