MILWAUKEE -- Prior to his promotion this week, Brett Kennedy had made 16 starts for Triple-A El Paso this season. He hadn't lost any of them. And so, the 24-year-old right-hander entered his big league debut against the Brewers undefeated in 2018.Major League Baseball -- as it has done so
MILWAUKEE -- Prior to his promotion this week, Brett Kennedy had made 16 starts for Triple-A El Paso this season. He hadn't lost any of them. And so, the 24-year-old right-hander entered his big league debut against the Brewers undefeated in 2018.
Major League Baseball -- as it has done so often through the years -- offered yet another humbling lesson to a wide-eyed rookie.
The Brewers greeted Kennedy rudely in their 8-4 victory on Wednesday night at Miller Park, scoring five runs in the first inning. All five came on back-to-back-to-back homers from Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw and Eric Thames, earning Kennedy a place in history that he wants no part of.
Kennedy became the first pitcher to allow three consecutive homers in the first inning of his debut. He's the third to do it at any point during his first game, joining Bill Fulton in 1987 and Tyler Thornburg in 2012.
"It's definitely a surreal experience, a first Major League start," Kennedy said. "It didn't go the way I wanted. I got the team in a hole, would've liked to ... give the team a chance to win. But I got the first one out of the way."
To Kennedy's credit, he settled down and allowed one run over the next three frames before he was removed for a pinch-hitter in the fifth. The right-hander allowed six runs on 11 hits and struck out three.
"We saw who he was in those last couple innings," Padres manager Andy Green said. "We saw a guy settled in, dialed in, locating his fastball very well, pitching effectively. He's going to be fine."
The Padres tried chipping away against Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin. In the top of the sixth, Hunter Renfroe hit his third homer in as many games, cutting the deficit to 7-3. But Padres reliever Phil Hughes gave up solo homers to Orlando Arcia and Christian Yelich in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
Renfroe and Austin Hedges finished with two hits apiece, but Kennedy's rough first inning was too much to overcome.
This isn't the first time Kennedy has faced adversity. He was an 11th-round pick in 2015 as a senior out of Fordham University. He worked his way through the Padres' system, despite lack of recognition in prospect rankings. In his 16 starts for El Paso this season, he went 10-0 with a 2.72 ERA.
Kennedy earned his way to the Majors. His next task: earning his right to stay.
"I see a guy who believes in himself," Green said. "He's got confidence. I don't think he's going to waver in that belief just because of one inning."
Clearly, Renfroe is determined to make the most of his starting opportunity in the outfield. Last Thursday, William Myers fouled a ball off his left foot and landed on the disabled list with a bone bruise. Since then, Renfroe is 8-for-21 (.381) with four extra-base hits and eight RBIs.
"People get hot, people get cold," Renfroe said. "I feel good right now. ... With Wil going down, somebody's got to step up."
Renfroe's sixth-inning homer marked the first time in three big league seasons that he's gone deep in three straight games. It's also the second straight game in which he's homered against a right-hander. Generally, righties have been tough on the right-handed-hitting Renfroe, but he's reduced his splits noticeably this season.
Kennedy became the second pitcher in as many nights to debut and notch a first career strikeout against Yelich. On Tuesday, Trey Wingenter blew a 98 mph fastball past Yelich for a strikeout. A day later, Kennedy finished his first frame by getting Yelich to whiff on a slider.
Wingenter pitched again Wednesday, and he retired the Brewers in order. He struck out Jonathan Schoop and Yelich before getting Lorenzo Cain to fly to center in the eighth. The hard-throwing right-hander has faced six hitters, and he's retired all six.
HE SAID IT
"I made a decent pitch to Aguilar. He put a great swing on it. After that, I tried doing a little bit too much. Things can bite you quick when you make mistakes here." -- Kennedy, on the three-run home run he gave up to Aguilar
The Padres and Brewers play the rubber match of the three-game series at 11:10 a.m. PT on Thursday. Left-hander Robbie Erlin gets the ball for San Diego, opposite Milwaukee righty Junior Guerra. Erlin will be looking to solidify his rotation place, having spent most of the season in the bullpen. In his third start of the year last time out, Erlin allowed one run in five innings against the Cubs.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.