Hand delivers strong outing, two bunt RBIs
Southpaw's unusual offensive output a first for a pitcher
ATLANTA -- Chalk up a first for Brad Hand in the Marlins' 4-1 win over the Braves on Sunday night at Turner Field. Not only did the 25-year-old lefty impress over seven innings, he accomplished with the bat something never previously recorded by a pitcher.
Hand dropped two sacrifice RBI bunts in the same game. The last time a player accomplished the feat was Alex Cora of the Dodgers against the D-backs on July 16, 2004.
Such a statistic wasn't tracked before 1974. No pitcher has ever done it twice in one game until Hand on a day he helped Miami snap a six-game losing streak.
"He has that ability to slow the game down," manager Dan Jennings said. "He takes a lot of pride at the plate. So we felt good to put on the safety squeeze. It worked one time, so why not go back to the well? Two RBIs. Heck of a day by that young man."
Hand entered the day just 4-for-55 (.073) in his career with two RBIs. Actually, his first career run batted in was also on a safety squeeze bunt in 2011. The second run he drove in came in 2014.
"I'm just trying to get the bunt down," Hand said. "I got two good reads. The first one, I kind of thought I popped it to the first baseman. It got down, it worked out."
Hand's RBIs came in the second and sixth innings. The way he was throwing, he didn't need much support to improve to 2-2 with a 4.29 ERA this season.
Hand allowed just two hits, one a home run by Jonny Gomes in the seventh.
Miami hadn't had a starter work as much as seven innings since Tom Koehler on July 23.
All season, Hand has bounced back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation. With ace Jose Fernandez set to go on the disabled list with a right biceps strain, and Jose Urena (left knee bruise) already on the DL, Miami is looking for rotation help.
Hand has a chance to make a case to see if he will be part of the rotation, not only for the rest of '15, but next year as well.
"It's tough to lose your ace of the staff," Hand said. "You've got to step up. Everybody around us has got to step up and fill his shoes.
"I believe in myself. I know I can pitch. I know I can pitch here. I know I can start. I've just got to go out there and worry about pitching good games and try to win."