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Hand perfect in ASG relief for 2nd year in a row

Padres closer gets National League out of jam in 8th inning
MLB.com

The San Diego Padres have never thrown a perfect game in club history, but closer Brad Hand has been nothing but perfect in the Midsummer Classic.

Making his second consecutive appearance for the National League in Tuesday's 89th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, which the American League won, 8-6, in 10 innings, Hand took the mound at Nationals Park hoping to repeat his spotless 2017 performance.

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The San Diego Padres have never thrown a perfect game in club history, but closer Brad Hand has been nothing but perfect in the Midsummer Classic.

Making his second consecutive appearance for the National League in Tuesday's 89th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, which the American League won, 8-6, in 10 innings, Hand took the mound at Nationals Park hoping to repeat his spotless 2017 performance.

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He succeeded, as the lone Padres representative breezed through three AL sluggers.

With one out in the top of the eighth inning and the National League down by three, manager Dave Roberts turned to Hand to face two of the Cleveland Indians' most dangerous hitters: Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley.

Hand passed the test with ease, getting Gomes to chase on an 82.2 mph slider and Brantley to ground out to second baseman Ozzie Albies to retire the side.

Hand started the ninth, inducing a popup from Oakland's Jed Lowrie before being replaced by Ross Stripling

Tweet from @Padres: Easy as 1������-2������-3������ for @bhand22 tonight! #TalkToTheHand | #AllStarGame pic.twitter.com/6xhPr9Ql2V

The situation was familiar to Hand, who hasn't always been used as a traditional closer by the Padres this season. Of his 41 appearances in the first half, 11 came in the eighth inning -- usually to face the heart of a team's lineup. He still managed to record 24 saves in the first half, which ties Brad Boxberger for the third-highest in the NL.

Hand's All-Star-caliber run also included an NL Reliever of the Month nod in May, but the closer struggled of late, blowing three of his last six save opportunities and seeing his ERA jump from sub 2.30 to 3.05. But, Hand didn't struggle on the Midsummer Classic stage.

Video: 2017 ASG: Hand whiffs Cano to end the top of the 7th

Last year, Hand became the seventh pitcher in Padres history to record a scoreless inning in an All-Star Game, pitching a perfect seventh at Marlins Park that included striking out the game's eventual MVP, Robinson Cano, on three pitches.

"I know what to expect," Hand said before Tuesday's game. "I know what goes on and how everything's run. I'll be relaxed a little bit, take everything in a little more."

He's now retired six straight batters in the Midsummer Classic, becoming the first Padre to do so since Andy Benes in 1993.

Katie Woo is a reporter for MLB.com.

San Diego Padres, Brad Hand