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Lyles can't contain Atlanta in lopsided loss

June 5, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- For the most part, Jordan Lyles has been solid since the Padres moved him into their starting rotation a month ago. Lyles helped stabilize a pitching staff full of question marks, and entering play Tuesday, San Diego had won each of his last four starts.With that in

SAN DIEGO -- For the most part, Jordan Lyles has been solid since the Padres moved him into their starting rotation a month ago. Lyles helped stabilize a pitching staff full of question marks, and entering play Tuesday, San Diego had won each of his last four starts.
With that in mind, the Padres can only hope that Tuesday's showing against Atlanta was a blip. Because things got ugly -- and fast -- for the 27-year-old right-hander.
The Braves tagged Lyles for eight runs over 4 1/3 innings in a 14-1 loss for the Padres at Petco Park. He recorded only one strikeout and allowed 11 hits, including four for extra bases in a five-run fifth.
"When you don't bring your 'A game' against a good lineup, you're going to get exposed," Lyles said. "I don't feel like I had my good stuff, but I think it has more to do with the other side over there."
The Padres are preparing for a bullpen game on Wednesday, and it's worth wondering whether Lyles would've received a quicker hook otherwise.
"The strategy was to win a baseball game, but once you get down four, five or eight in our case, one of the things you never want to admit as a manager is sometimes you have to punt and focus on winning the next game," manager Andy Green said. "If you burn through all your pitchers, that gets really hard."
Bryan Mitchell bore the brunt of it for the next 2 2/3 innings. He surrendered five runs on five hits.
When the Padres traded for Mitchell during the offseason, they were hopeful he could develop into a useful rotation piece. Instead, he owns a 7.08 ERA, and it's worth wondering how much longer San Diego might keep a roster spot for him.
Freddie Freeman did the most damage for Atlanta, going 4-for-4 and finishing a triple shy of the cycle. Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis homered as well.
"Good hitters make good swings on bad pitches," Lyles said.
Phil Hughes worked the eighth, and Cory Spangenberg -- yes, the infielder -- allowed one run in the ninth. All things considered, the Padres (who entered play having won six of seven) managed to maintain a fresh bullpen -- Mitchell and Hughes aside -- for Wednesday's series finale.
Freeman takes flight: Lyles' high-octane curveball has been his best pitch this season. But these days, Freeman can hit just about anything. He turned around a solid curveball from Lyles and sent it into the deck area beyond the right-center-field fence, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead in the third.
"Freeman hit a pitch that not many people hit," Green said. "That was one of those life-sucking pitches. When a guy hits that pitch, you feel that."

Hot corner: All eight of the runs charged to Lyles were earned, but his defense didn't do him many favors. Most notably, Christian Villanueva turned a sharp ground ball into a two-run double in the top of the fourth. With the Padres trailing, 4-0, at the time, Green brought his infield in. Charlie Culberson hit a one-hopper that caromed off Villanueva's glove and into left field, scoring two and opening the floodgates.

It was little consolation, but Padres right fielder Franmil Reyes crushed a mammoth home run to one of the deepest parts of Petco Park in the bottom of the ninth. He turned around a 92-mph fastball from Braves reliever Luke Jackson and sent it over the bullpens in left-center field. According to Statcast™, it carried a projected 455 feet -- the second-longest homer at Petco Park this season, trailing only Franchy Cordero's 459-foot blast on April 28 against the Mets.
As he worked his way through the Padres' system, Reyes became known for his prodigious power. He's putting it on full display in his first month in the Majors. But perhaps of equal importance: The 22-year-old Reyes has shown a maturity in the batter's box typically reserved for veteran hitters.
"He crushed it," Green said. "I went up to him right before his at-bat and said, 'Don't you ever give an at-bat away in the big leagues.' It's really easy to do that over the course of a season, and it happens to most hitters. But the best in the game don't give at-bats away in blowout games. They take everything incredibly seriously. It was good to see him take that to heart."

Once upon a time, Spangenberg was a closer for Abington Heights High School in Scranton, Pa. But the 27-year-old second and third baseman hadn't taken the mound in a competitive situation since.
All in all, it was an impressive showing. Spangenberg's fastball averaged 84 mph -- and it even hit 88 at one point during the inning.
"If he had told me he could throw 85-88, I would've called him a bold-faced liar," Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski joked.
In Spangenberg's eyes, he merely had a job to do.
"I knew the bullpen day was coming up," he said. "I knew I just had to go out there and literally throw strikes and eat an inning."

In Joey Lucchesi's continued absence, the Padres are expected to use a handful of relievers to fill the void -- as they did in a May 27 loss in Los Angeles. Matt Strahm takes the ball first, while Atlanta counters with Mike Foltynewicz. First pitch is slated for 12:40 p.m. PT.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.