Pittsburgh Pirates reserve Adam Frazier had seen Philadelphia Phillies reliever Edubray Ramos during the Arizona Fall League baseball season and used this knowledge to his benefit.
Frazier was able to hit his first career home run, a solo shot over the Clemente Wall in right field, to help lead the Pirates to the 5-4 win over the Phillies on Sunday.
“It was up and in,” he said. “I figured he was going up and in with a fastball after missing with two off-speed pitches, so I just tried to get the hands to it and the barrel out front and I got it. I haven’t hit one that felt that good all year.”
All five runs scored by the Pirates in this game were scored by the bench.
Elias Diaz drove a run in with an RBI ground out in the first inning, and Sean Rodriguez followed right after with a double. Matt Joyce then hit his 10th home run of the season scoring two runs before Frazier homered off Ramos (1-1).
“It can definitely be argued that maybe it’s the best bench I’ve ever had as a manager,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Definitely I think it’s the best bench here looking back over the six years with the quality men we can pull off at any time or if you run your normal eight out there the guys that you have left to work with off the bench.”
Diaz excels in first start
Prior to this game, Diaz talked about his arm being stronger than ever. Fewer than 24 hours after the Phillies stole five bases on Tyler Glasnow, it almost felt like an open challenge.
Except the Phillies did not bite. That is not to say Diaz was not tested.
With Carlos Ruiz on second base, Diaz made a snap throw that was initially ruled safe by crew chief Tony Randazzo. Hurdle elected to challenge the play which proved to be the right decision.
“My arm’s feeling great,” he said through translator Mike Gonzalez. “It’s very strong, and I’m feeling very confident. I’m out here to prove it, and it’s just a great example to demonstrate that I’m ready to be here.”
Diaz had a good rapport with all of the pitchers but was put to the test when Tony Watson allowed two runners to reach base with two outs and Cody Asche at the plate.
Watson was able to strike out Asche, and Diaz quickly pointed his glove crediting Watson and then clapping his bare hand repeatedly into his glove.
“Being in the eighth inning with men on first and second, having Watson up there doing his thing, adrenaline begins to build up, and as I’m there cheering for him, I’m trying to maintain that connection with him,” said Diaz. “For me to witness him come through the way he did, that adrenaline just came out. That was a great inning and just an amazing game.”
Hurdle said the plan was to start Diaz all along barring a rain delay or postponed game of any kind. With Francisco Cervelli coming back from injury, they did not want to give him too much work and this gave him two days off.
Regardless of whether or not this is Diaz’s one and only start before returning to Triple-A Indianapolis remains to be seen, but Hurdle came away impressed.
“I thought Diaz caught a fantastic job today,” said Hurdle. “He game planned so well, handled each pitcher that went out there professionally. It was a really impressive outing for him in his first major league start.”
Jameson Taillon got a no-decision allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings. He was hit hard but his control allowed him to have some length to the start as he struck out seven, all with the curveball and walked zero batters.
“I thought he did a very good job,” Hurdle said. “He made some mistakes but he kept us in the game.”
Neftali Feliz (4-0) picked up the win after pitching the top half of the seventh inning.
Mark Melancon earned the save, his 30th of the season. This marks the first time in Pirates history that a pitcher has recorded 30 or more saves in three consecutive seasons.
The Pirates have an off day Monday before beginning a two-game series against the Seattle Mariners. Francisco Liriano (6-9, 4.96 ERA) will face Felix Hernandez (4-4, 3.23 ERA). Liriano is 6-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 10 career games against the Mariners.
Photo credit: @Pirates