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An All-Star homecoming for Hand

Reliever tosses perfect seventh in return to Miami
MLB.com @AJCassavell

Brad Hand knows a thing or two about pitching on the Marlins Park mound. The Padres All-Star was perfect in his return on Tuesday night.

Making his debut at the Midsummer Classic, Hand tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning, though the National League would fall, 2-1, on Robinson Cano's 10th-inning homer. Cano may have won the game's MVP Award, but he couldn't solve Hand, who struck him out on three pitches to become the seventh pitcher in Padres history with a perfect inning in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.

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Brad Hand knows a thing or two about pitching on the Marlins Park mound. The Padres All-Star was perfect in his return on Tuesday night.

Making his debut at the Midsummer Classic, Hand tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning, though the National League would fall, 2-1, on Robinson Cano's 10th-inning homer. Cano may have won the game's MVP Award, but he couldn't solve Hand, who struck him out on three pitches to become the seventh pitcher in Padres history with a perfect inning in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.

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"Sitting down there in the bullpen, I was just trying to take it all in," said Hand. "I knew I had the seventh inning. It was nice to get out there."

It's been a triumphant return trip for Hand, who spent parts of five big league seasons in Miami, where he struggled to find his place. The Marlins used him as a starter, a long man and a mop-up reliever, but he never found a groove and was waived by Miami at the start of the 2016 season. A year and a half later, Hand is one of the most durable and versatile late-inning arms in the sport.

"That was cool for sure," Hand said of pitching in Miami. "I know a lot of the guys that work here, so it's cool to come back here and see all them."

The Padres claimed Hand last April, and he began to carve himself a role right away. Over the past two seasons, no pitcher in baseball has made more appearances or pitched more relief innings than Hand.

In 47 innings this season, Hand owns a 2.30 ERA and 60 strikeouts, and he's become an extremely coveted commodity ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Since his arrival in San Diego, Hand has honed a nasty slider, which has become one of the Majors' top putaway pitches.

The slider was on full display Tuesday. With the bases empty and two outs, Hand got ahead of Cano with consecutive fastballs. He finished the inning with a slider at the top of the zone, and Cano could only flail at it.

Hand also retired Gary Sanchez on a chopper to second to start the frame, and he got Avisail Garcia to line out to left for the second out. It was the first perfect inning by a Padres pitcher in the All-Star Game since Andy Benes in 1993.

"It was awesome, going through it for the first time," Hand said. "It feels like these days went by super quick. It was awesome for my family to be able to come here, check it all out, and hopefully I'll be back again sometime."

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

Associate reporter Patrick Pinak contributed reporting from Miami.

San Diego Padres, Brad Hand