For the fourth time in five meetings so far this season, the Pirates defeated the Marlins. Friday’s game was close throughout, but not particularly well-played or exciting, to be honest.
- Elieser Hernandez—5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R (0 ER), 5 BB, 3 K, 22.8 CSW% (92 pitches)
- Wil Crowe—5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 27.0 CSW% (74 pitches)
Elieser Hernandez’s slider wasn’t useful for him on this night. He generated only one swinging strike with it on 17 swings—that’s a 5.9 Whiff% (season average with that pitch is 31.9 Whiff%).
Hernandez uncharacteristically issued back-to-back walks in the first inning, then let the Pirates get on the scoreboard via Jacob Stallings’ sharp grounder up the middle. Although it went on the record as an unearned run (Jazz Chisholm Jr. error), the Venezuelan right-hander was largely responsible.
The rally could have been extended even longer if not for a superb outfield assist from Bryan De La Cruz. He unleashed the throw at 94 miles per hour, according to Statcast, and delivered it accurately to major league newbie Payton Henry:
More details about Henry’s debut (1-for-4, 2B, 3 K) in here.
The Marlins answered with an Eddy Alvarez RBI single in the second, which brought home Jesús Sánchez. In the aftermath of Isan Díaz being optioned to Triple-A, Don Mattingly dubbed Alvarez as the club’s primary third baseman down the stretch. Despite Mattingly’s insistence otherwise, that decision is a harsh indictment of Díaz more so than a genuine audition for the 31-year-old Alvarez.
Set up by another pair of Hernandez walks and a Henry passed ball, Cole Tucker put the Bucs back ahead for good with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
I pride myself on knowing as many active MLB players as possible, but must confess that the appearance of Nick Mears caught me completely off guard. I had never heard of the right-hander, who contributed to Pittsburgh’s scoreless four-man relief effort.
De La Cruz’s leadoff triple in the ninth brought the Fish tantalizingly close to stealing a victory, or at least forcing extra innings. Alas, Sánchez, Brinson and Henry all whiffed on pitches outside the strike zone.
A silver lining to this snoozer was Miguel Rojas making his 500th plate appearance of the season. That ensures the $5.5 million option in his contract for the 2022 campaign will vest (pending a year-end health check). He’s the only Marlins position player so far whose ‘22 salary is fully guaranteed.
Bryse Wilson and Edward Cabrera will take the mound Saturday at 6:10 p.m.