SAN DIEGO -- Nick Vincent had little time to process his first save opportunity. The right-hander knew that Justin Upton would be his responsibility should Atlanta's powerful outfielder hit in the ninth inning Wednesday, but that at-bat was no certainty.
The Padres were an out away from a three-game sweep when Vincent indeed was called upon to face Upton, who represented the go-ahead run with runners at first and third.
Vincent flashed back to July 3, 2012, when he gave up a grand slam to Arizona's Jason Kubel and allowed three inherited runners to score. As he thought about that outing, Vincent remembered striking out Upton that day, just before Kubel's slam.
He knew he could do it again. Vincent started 2-0 but came back with two cut fastballs that Upton couldn't handle.
"The crowd started to get into it at that point, which really got the adrenaline going," Vincent said. "the pressure was on, but I rared back and threw a fastball as hard as I could."
Upton never moved. Called strike three.
It was a big moment for Vincent and certainly helped further his quest to become a mainstay in the Major Leagues. As was the three shutout innings he pitched in a 17-inning victory over Toronto on May 31.
With those 4 1/3 big league innings this season, Vincent is on the right track. He had a 1.71 ERA in 26 1/3 innings with the Padres last year, but a forearm strain sent him off track this spring.
Recent outings suggest Vincent's back, pitching to his potential.
"I think he's stuff plays in the big leagues," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He doesn't scare off in any situation, which is a good thing. Hopefully he continues to perform well and can establish himself at this level."
Scott Bair is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less