Different bullpen mix locks down Padres win
Maurer, Kelley, Benoit close out victory with usual relievers out
CHICAGO -- The Padres closed out their 5-2 victory over the Cubs in slightly unusual fashion Sunday, as reliever Dale Thayer and closer Craig Kimbrel remained bundled in their jackets on a cold and drizzly afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Both were relegated to the bench because of frequent usage in recent days. As it turned out, the team didn't need either of them.
After starting pitcher Andrew Cashner left following six innings, relievers Brandon Maurer, Shawn Kelley and Joaquin Benoit closed out the Cubs over the final three innings with Benoit dancing around some trouble in the ninth inning for his first save of the season.
"Going in, those guys knew where we were," said Padres manager Bud Black. "First of all, Cash knew it, too. After that first inning, Cash had to cinch the belt a little bit tighter and get us to the latter part of the game, which he did."
From there, the trio of Maurer, Kelley and Benoit finished it. Maurer got three outs in the seventh with nine pitches, Kelley, who scuffled early in the season, needed 11 pitches to get three outs. Benoit got two quick outs, allowed two baserunners, but struck out Jorge Soler to end the game.
Credit the depth of the bullpen, Kelley said.
"That's what, ideally, we knew we had: a lot of depth," Kelley said. "It doesn't always have to be the same guys. Obviously, Joaquin and Craig are going to be the guys at the back end when they're fresh. But Dale has had experience doing it, I have in my career and Maurer has the stuff to do it."
Kelley has tossed two scoreless innings over the past two games, striking out three. He allowed a combined five earned runs over his first three games, but, thanks to work with Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley, he has corrected a mechanical flaw.
"There was a little issue with my [front shoulder] flying open, and I was also trying to do too much after I got off to a little bit of a slow start," Kelley said. "I think I was overcompensating. I looked at some video from the first few outings when I had success last season. It was something I could see."
The result was a fastball with more torque and a slider that was a little sharper, Kelley said.
Overall, the result was locking down a victory on getaway day, as the Padres took the series from the Cubs, two games to one.
"This was a good win for us as far as Shawn and Brandon contributing to a win and Joaquin getting the save," Black said. "The formula has been Kimbrel, Benoit and Thayer … so for these guys to contribute was big."