In a pinch, Pirates' pitcher Wilson shows mettle
PHOENIX — Justin Wilson did not start the game Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was not credited with a victory, hold or save.
Yet Wilson pitched more innings than any of the other four pitchers the Pirates used, and his contribution was arguably the most important.
After a hamstring injury forced starter Wandy Rodriguez out of the game, Wilson tossed three hitless, scoreless innings. Wilson was given a one-run lead and kept it safe so the back end of the bullpen could close out what became a 5-3 victory.
“The ball came out of his hand the best I've seen from him,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He was going 98 mph to 79 mph and throwing strikes, filling up the zone. Not a single three-ball count all the way through the lineup. A very impressive outing on a night we needed something.”
Rodriguez pitched 2 1⁄3 innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits.
“I feel much better now after getting treatment,” Rodriguez said after the game. “Let's see what happens the next couple of days.”
Rodriguez felt a twinge while releasing his next-to-last pitch, a fastball to Gerardo Parra. After his final pitch, a breaking ball, Rodriguez clutched his left leg near the knee and dropped into a crouch in order to stretch.
“Once Wandy left the game, we all knew in the pen that either someone would have multiple innings or everyone was going to throw,” Wilson said.
First up was Jeanmar Gomez (1-0), who struggled through 1 2⁄3 innings. He gave up two runs, allowing the Diamondbacks to tie the game, 3-3.
The Pirates regained the lead for good in the fifth. Starling Marte tripled and scored on Andrew McCutchen's sacrifice fly.
Wilson came into the game to start the bottom of the fifth. He got Aaron Hill to ground out, then struck out Paul Goldschmidt. Usually, Goldschmidt hammers lefties, but Wilson got him out of whack with a 76-mph curveball followed by 97-mph heat.
Rookie Alfredo Marte was the next strikeout victim. This time, Wilson set up the righty with a 97- mph fastball and got him to whiff on a 78-mph curve.
“My change-up is a little hard, so having the curveball helps to get people on their front foot,” Wilson said. “I used that as an off-balance pitch.”
Wilson threw a 1-2-3 sixth. In the seventh, Parra was hit by a pitch with one out. Martin Prado is one of the biggest extra-base hit threats in the league, but Wilson won a five-pitch duel — inducing an inning-ending double play with another crisp bender.
“That was really good,” Hurdle said. “To face Prado, Hill and Goldschmidt, that's a litmus test for anyone.”
Wilson worked as a starter in the minors but probably best projects as a reliever in the majors. He threw only 35 pitches (21 strikes) to get through his three innings against Arizona.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Burnett pitches well in farewell, but Pirates lose to Reds
- Are Pirates better positioned to win it all this postseason?
- Pirates fans on edge as season again coming down to wild card
- Starting 9: How can the Pirates catch the Cardinals in the future?
- Pirates notebook: It’s official: Cole to start wild-card game against Cubs
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Reds, Oct. 4, 2015
- Pirates notebook: Morton traces struggles to mechanics of delivery
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Reds October 3, 2015
- Marte’s 2-run homer in 12th polishes off Reds
- Starkey: Outfield collision alters perspective
- Photo gallery: Last Pirates game at Three Rivers Stadium, Oct. 1, 2000