The Pittsburgh Pirates met their match Friday night in Philadelphia Phillies 22-year-old rookie pitcher Zach Eflin, who is known for his ability to pitch to contact. As he pitched, the Pirates exhibited little contact, and Eflin recorded his second career complete game as the Phillies shut out the Pirates, 4-0.
Eflin (3-3, 3.40 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) threw exactly 100 pitches and allowed only three hits on the night. He got eight ground ball outs and five flyball outs in addition to six strikeouts.
Pirates’ starter Gerrit Cole (5-6, 2.99 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) matched Eflin zero for zero on the scoreboard for much of the game, but Cole flinched in the sixth inning.
He allowed a leadoff single to Odubel Herrera, hit Andres Blanco with a pitch and then walked Tommy Joseph on four pitches to load the bases with no outs. This prompted a mound visit from Pittsburgh pitching coach Ray Searage.
But Cameron Rupp put the Phillies on the board on a 1-1 fastball that Gregory Polanco couldn’t make a diving play on in right field. But Polanco reacted quickly and kept the ball in front of him, limiting the damage to one run.
From there, Cole got out of the inning with two strikeouts and a line out.
Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero pitched the seventh inning and needed three pitches to record two outs. He was a strike away from getting Herrera for a 1-2-3 inning but, instead, the Phillies center fielder doubled on a 99 mile per-hour fastball. Blanco then singled on a first-pitch fastball to put the visiting Phillies up 2-0.
It was the first run Caminero had allowed since July 7.
Caminero then hit Joseph with a pitch, putting runners on first and second base. Manager Clint Hurdle had seen enough and brought Jared Hughes in to pitch.
It quickly became apparent Hughes would only face one batter: Rupp. Hughes fell behind 2-0 in the count, forcing catcher Francisco Cervelli to go to the mound to try and calm his pitcher down. But it was all for naught as Hughes walked Rupp, and Hurdle took the ball from a second reliever.
It was the Pirates’ third reliever, Jonathon Niese, who recorded the final out of the seventh inning.
Niese stayed in to pitch the last two innings. He stranded a runner in the eighth after a leadoff double, but he wasn’t so fortunate in the ninth inning.
With one out, Blanco singled. Then, with two outs, Rupp stepped to the plate. He only needed one pitch, a fastball, to hit the ball over the right-center field wall. The home run, Rupp’s 10th of the season, was the 21st Niese has allowed this season, which ties the Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer for the NL lead.
These two teams will face each other again Saturday with the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 6.75 ERA) taking on the Phillies’ Aaron Nola (5-8, 4.41 ERA). Because Hurdle confirmed after Friday’s game that Glasnow would get the ball, a corresponding roster move will need to be made because the 6-foot-8-inch right-handed pitcher is in Triple-A Indianapolis.
In Glasnow’s lone Major League start to date, he allowed four runs on three hits in 5.1 innings, taking the loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
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