In the 119th game of the Padres' 2015 season and only the second game of his career, Colin Rea became the seventh pitcher in San Diego's franchise history to win back-to-back decisions in his first two career Major League appearances. Thanks to a strong performance by Rea and a strong offensive showing by a pair of Padres sluggers, the Friars downed the Braves by a score of 5-3 in Monday's series opener at Petco Park.
Rea needed only 93 pitches as he tossed 5 2/3 innings against Atlanta, surrendering only two runs on five hits and four strikeouts to improve to a 2-0 record with a 4.22 ERA. Rea also reached base safely in the second inning via a base on balls, and as such he became only the fourth Padres pitcher in franchise history to reach base safely in their first two career appearances.
Aside from Rea's all-around great performance on Monday, he also received a great amount of support from a strong Padres bullpen. Rea was relieved by Bud Norris in the sixth, who pitched 1 1/3 innings of shutout baseball while striking out two. Joaquin Benoit also pitched a shutout inning in relief while closer Craig Kimbrel collected his 34th save of the year after surrendering only one earned run and striking out two in the ninth inning.
For the second game in a row, Rea was also backed by an early offensive showcase as the Padres scored three runs in the second inning thanks to a Derek Norris RBI infield single and a Will Venable two-run RBI single to make it a 3-0 game. Matt Kemp, who has pushed his hitting streak into double digits, collected a hit in his 10th straight game with a solo home run in the fifth to give the Padres a 4-1 lead.
Kemp also enjoyed a multi-hit game along with Venable, Justin Upton and Yonder Alonso. Alonso joined Kemp in leaving the ball yard as his solo shot in the eighth inning proved to be a very helpful insurance run as the game ran on. Alonso's homer in the eighth was his fifth of the season while Kemp launched his 14th of the year in the fifth.
Finally, one of the bigger stories of the night came from the Padres defense, which was in rare form on Monday - quite literally, in fact, as Jedd Gyorko made his debut playing shortstop for the Friars. Gyorko played a solid game at short after making a few diving plays before switching back to second base in the eighth inning, and Justin Upton also flashed the leather with a Gold Glove-worthy catch in the eighth inning to quell an Atlanta rally.
The Padres will now try to secure their third series victory in a row in the middle match of their three-game set against the Braves, as James Shields takes the hill opposite of rookie Matt Wisler. In case you missed it, here's a look at some highlights and stories that may have passed you by from Monday: