Kelley continues resurgence with strong frame
Padres reliever strikes out three batters in seventh inning vs. Reds
SAN DIEGO -- As interim manager Pat Murphy pointed out after the Padres' 2-1 win against the Reds on Monday, impressive outings from relievers Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel are often expected.
But during Monday's game, relief pitcher Shawn Kelley contributed with a strong performance of his own.
Kelley came in for the seventh inning with a one-run lead to face Cincinnati's top of the lineup.
Kelley allowed a single to Brandon Phillips but was able to strike out the next three batters.
"The job [Kelley] did, striking out the side after Phillips, [who] put an experienced swing on a tough pitch, got a base hit. Then three punchouts for Kelley -- that's really impressive to pick us up with [Brandon] Maurer not in his best form," Murphy said.
Kelley was able to get Eugenio Suarez, Joey Votto and Todd Frazier to all strike out swinging, and each time with a slider.
"It felt good. I was able to get ahead and use my slider," Kelley said. "I know they were trying to stay away from Maurer tonight and Quack [Kevin Quackenbush] was down, so we were a little shorthanded. I just tried to go out and make my pitches. I executed tonight and it worked out for us."
With Maurer suffering from fatigue, Kelley has been put into a different role.
"Maurer is our seventh-inning guy and really, we probably would have been better off giving Kelley more innings in the sixth inning, but other people got opportunities in and were successful and kept going," Murphy said. "Really, Kelley is the one that ever since that little hiccup at the beginning of the year, he has been really good."
That hiccup was pretty brutal at the start of the season, as Kelley in the first six weeks of the season had an 8.38 ERA, allowing 14 hits and 10 runs in 9 2/3 innings. Fast-forward to the past six weeks, and Kelley appears to be a new pitcher. Since June 29, he has allowed nine hits and one run in 16 1/3 innings.
"I think there was a little bit of bad luck, a little bit of not executing pitches early. I kind of got off to a slow start," Kelley said. "At some point in the year you always go through a little funk; mine was just right out at the beginning, so I think it's a little more blown up. But I settled down and I have been able to just get back to being me."