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'Brotato' stymies former club in return to Miami

MLB.com

MIAMI -- For Brad Hand, Miami is a reminder. It's a reminder of both where he came from and where he is now after seven years in the big leagues.

"Brotato", as Hand's going by for Players Weekend, fired two scoreless innings and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the Padres' 2-1 loss in 11 innings to the Marlins -- his former organization -- on Saturday at Marlins Park.

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MIAMI -- For Brad Hand, Miami is a reminder. It's a reminder of both where he came from and where he is now after seven years in the big leagues.

"Brotato", as Hand's going by for Players Weekend, fired two scoreless innings and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the Padres' 2-1 loss in 11 innings to the Marlins -- his former organization -- on Saturday at Marlins Park.

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It also marked the left-hander's first time taking the mound in Miami since tossing a scoreless seventh -- - in which he retired Gary Sanchez, Avisail Garcia and Robinson Cano -- in July's Midsummer Classic.

And whether because of the situation or his history with the opposing organization, Hand had slightly more gas in the tank than usual.

"You don't typically see 97 [mph] out of him," Padres manager Andy Green said. "So I don't know if it's [the history] or it's 'Brotato' on the back of his jersey that got him more amped up."

Hand entered the seventh with runners at the corners and no outs. He induced a fielder's choice groundout off the bat of Dee Gordon, intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton, fanned Christian Yelich on a few nasty sliders and got Marcell Ozuna to fly out to right to keep the game tied at 1. His fastball sat around 94 mph and touched 97.

Ever since the Padres claimed Hand off waivers from the Marlins last year, the southpaw has looked like a shorter second coming of Andrew Miller.

Consider this note: Hand struck out 190 batters over 288 2/3 innings during a five-year span with the Marlins, primarily as a starter. In his two seasons in San Diego, he has fanned 198 batters in 155 frames. Hand must've looked like a completely foreign player to Marlins fans who remember him.

Video: Hand discusses his Players Weekend nickname

It has been nothing new for Hand, though. A 2.19 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings are already eye-popping, and then there's his streak from June 14-Aug. 8 when he went 24 straight scoreless frames.

It's no wonder Green isn't afraid to play his best card at any given moment.

"He's never facing like the bottom part of the batting order. He's always going right after the heart," Green said. "I don't think people even really realize how good his numbers really are because every single time he pitches, it's against their best hitters."

Saturday night was more of the same. And once again, Hand prevailed -- this time against the club that selected him in the second round of the 2008 Draft.

"I'm sure there has to be a little extra motivation knowing that this is the team that released you," Green said. "I'm guessing he's past that. He doesn't need motivation. He just gets the job done."

Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami.

San Diego Padres, Brad Hand