The Pittsburgh Pirates will be looking for another series win Sunday when it faces the Philadelphia Phillies.
Zach Eflin threw his second career complete game as the Phillies won Game 1, 4-0. The Pirates had a five run fifth inning winning Game 2, 7-4.
In the rubber match, Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.44 ERA) will face Vince Velasquez (8-2, 3.15 ERA).
Taillon will be making his seventh major league start. In his last start, he had a no-decision allowing a run on five hits in six innings Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was his first appearance since being placed on the disabled list July 5 (retroactive to June 30) with right shoulder fatigue.
Velasquez is also coming off a no-decision after allowing a run on three hits in seven innings against the Miami Marlins.
“He’s on a nice roll, and he’s fun to watch pitch,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “There was a reason why he was heavily sought after in the winter. He’s a very exciting young pitcher. For me, the excitement level I have watching him reminds me of Carlos Martinez when he came up with the Cardinals. He’s that athletic and has that much of a skill set.”
Diaz making first career start
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco was quick to put his fist close to Elias Diaz as if conducting an interview. Polanco could not help but feel happy that Diaz’s tough journey back from right elbow surgery has a happy ending.
Sunday’s lineup revealed that Diaz will be making his first career major league start as he will be batting seventh in the batting order.
“I definitely didn’t think it was going to come this soon, especially with the battles and the obstacles I went through with the injury,” he said through translator Mike Gonzalez. “It just shows that mental focus, hard work and belief in God pay off.”
Hurdle broke the news to reporters saying this was as involved as he could get Diaz, whose time with the Pirates will likely end once Eric Fryer returns from Ohio following the birth of twins.
This does not matter to Diaz, who knows the Pirates have bought in to him and his abilities for quite a while now.
“It’s a blessing and a joy to have the Pirates believe in me the way they do. To me this is a great achievement. Today is a big day for me, and I’m super excited to be here.”
What drew the Pirates to Diaz was his defense and arm. These aspects needed the most work after the surgery but Diaz promises big things with his arm.
“My arm strength is like never before, and I’m excited to demonstrate it today,” said Diaz. “If it’s not where it used to be, it’s probably even better.”
Gomez credits Pirates for assisting progression
Jeanmar Gomez is a name that should be quite familiar to Pirates fans as he called PNC Park his home in 2013 and 14. As it turns out, it did more for him than that.
“When it comes to Pittsburgh, it was about pitching inside more to the hitters, and I was doing that working both sides of the plate,” he said. “Before I came to Pittsburgh, I hadn’t had that kind of mentality to throw inside and I began to feel comfortable with it.”
It has been quite the transformation as Gomez had graduated from a 22-year-old trying to find himself as a member of the Cleveland Indians to Phillies closer where he has 26 saves and could very well be sought after as a set-up man when the MLB Trade Deadline approaches.
He no longer feels pressure before games and credits that to his time with the Pirates and his faith in God.
“Before I wasn’t throwing too many pitches inside. When I came to Pittsburgh, I threw inside a lot for strikes and balls a lot,” said Gomez. “When you do that, you open up the outside part of the plate. I learned that from Pittsburgh, and it was a good point because hitters can see I can throw inside, too.”
- John Jaso 1B
- Gregory Polanco LF
- David Freese 3B
- Starling Marte CF
- Matt Joyce RF
- Josh Harrison 2B
- Elias Diaz C
- Sean Rodriguez SS
- Jameson Taillon P
- Cesar Hernandez 2B
- Odubel Herrera CF
- Andres Blanco 3B
- Ryan Howard 1B
- Carlos Ruiz C
- Freddy Galvis SS
- Cody Asche LF
- Peter Bourjos RF
- Vince Velasquez P
Bottom of the ninth
A.J. Schugel’s demotion was short lived, in fact it did not even last 24 hours. He rejoined the Pirates after Tyler Glasnow was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder discomfort.
Schugel was eligible to be called up because of the injury, otherwise he would have had to wait another nine days before he was eligible to rejoin the Pirates.
Hurdle had told Schugel to stay in Pittsburgh and the call was given while the reliever was in his apartment.
“My disappointment level is not low,” Glasnow said. “It’s definitely frustrating when you come up and that happens, but it could always have been worse.”
Glasnow is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two career Major League starts.
“Most times we have the idea that Triple-A numbers will transfer to big league numbers. It’s probably one of the biggest challenges we have over here, evaluations,” Hurdle said. “I got a thousand questions about (Gerrit) Cole when he came up here about why he wasn’t striking guys out. When you do the work, he wasn’t striking guys out in Triple-A. Sometimes other people’s expectations turn into resentments and that’s what happens with young players when they come up and don’t perform at the level others expect them to.”