San Diego — As the Padres took the field, John Cena’s walk-out music “The Champ Is Here” blasted across the Petco loudspeakers as Logan Allen took the big league mound for the first time
“John Cena had no idea. I thought it would be awesome if I came out to his song,” said Logan Allen, smiling gleefully. “It actually got me going a bit, it really did.”
Five pitches later, Allen left the mound having gotten the reigning NL MVP to rollover into a 1-6-3 double play. The single Allen allowed in front of that would be the only hit to a position player the rookie allow in his debut.
“The first inning was all adrenaline I think. The second through the fifth I think I got more locked in.”
Allen’s success came from locating his fastball. In Spring Training, Allen struggled when he couldn’t locate his fastball. When hitters could lay off his fastball, they could sit on his change and curveball. While each are good on their own, they become plus when hitters are adjusting from the fastball.
“Tonight I was able to use my fastball to get ahead,” said Allen “I threw a ton of strikes and didn’t have to use too many offspeed pitches early. It allowed me to save the offspeed stuff for later in the game which allowed me to go deeper.”
Tonight, his fastball played up. While Allen normally sits 92-94 mph, he hit 96 on multiple occasions over the first few innings. Allen threw only fastballs in the first, and then slowly mixed in his change and then slider as the innings wore on.
Padres’ manager Andy Green summed up Allen’s outing, “He changed from being that 94-96 power pitcher in the first few innings, where he can just blow guys away. At the end of the game, where he didn’t have the same velocity [he sat 89-91 in the seventh], but was throwing a better slider.”
The few times Allen did run into trouble, he had Fernando Tatis Jr, Hunter Renfroe, and the rest of the Padre defense ready to pick him up,
“Oh my gosh! It was unbelievable. I could throw whatever I want, and feel comfortable if they hit it. Hunter in left was running all over the place, and the double plays, wow. It is awesome. The defense is second to none. Best in the big leagues.”
Allen didn’t just win the night with his arm. Allen collected his first major league hit, and scored his first major league run on an error to break the scoreless tie.
“It was awesome. The pitcher throws hard. It looked like a million miles an hour to me, but I got my first hit and got my first chop in too.”
In his last inning of work, Allen didn’t need his infield at all, stirking out the side for the first time in his big league career. Allen’s final line read seven shutout innings, striking out five, while allowing just three hits, two to the opposing pitcher. It was his first scoreless outing since a six inning outing against Salt Lake May 6, and first seven-inning shutout since a pair of back-to-back outings for San Antonio last June.
As good as his outing was, he was quick to offer praise to his teammates including batterymate Francisco Mejia. “Frankie did an outstanding job. We were on the same page the whole night. When I got rattled he came out and calmed me down, told me to stop rushing. You can see how far he is come. He is an unbelievable catcher, not to mention his home run.”
Tonight’s start was a culmination of Allen’s work since being traded to the Padres in November 2015 for Craig Kimbrel, and since making his first appearance with a Padres affiliate on April 10th, 2016 with the TinCaps. That night, like tonight, Allen allowed just three hits while striking out five. Back then, Austin Allen was his catcher, while one of the three hits allowed was to the opposing catcher, Francisco Mejia.
“Its fun to watch the kid who has pitched all the way down in Fort Wayne progress through the system and shows up here and pitches well.” Stated Andy Green “It is a great day for the whole organization.”
While he expects the night to be just the first of many shutout victories for Logan Allen, June 18 will always hold a special memory for Logan and his family.
“It was awesome.”