Pirates notebook: Watson fills closer's role, earns 1st major league save
PHILADELPHIA — With closer Jason Grilli and setup man Mark Melancon unavailable for Thursday's game, manager Clint Hurdle said Tony Watson would be the closer for the series finale against the Phillies.
Turns out, he was also his own set-up man.
The Pirates took a 6-3 lead in the top of the eighth, and Watson entered to face the heart of the Phillies' lineup. The left-hander gave up one run and got out of the inning.
But Watson nearly didn't get a chance to record his first major league save. With two out in the top of the ninth and Neil Walker at third and Starling Marte at bat, Watson was scheduled to bat next. If Marte had reached base, Watson likely would have been lifted for a pinch-hitter.
“We would have had a tough decision to make if Marte walked,” Hurdle said.
Russell Martin was on deck, and Vin Mazzaro was warming up, “so we were ready to make whatever move we felt best suited to win the game,” Hurdle said.
After Marte struck out, Watson went back out for the ninth. The third-year reliever gave up a leadoff double but got the next three outs for the milestone save.
“Just to come in with a chance to win the series, especially in this place, is a great feeling,” Watson said.
Grilli had pitched in four of the previous five games, and Melancon had pitched the previous two nights.
“There will be a time when he's able to go three days,” Hurdle said of Melancon. “He's already done it once. We're still not out of April, and I really don't like too many three-day-in-a-row appearances per month, let alone two the first month of the season.”
Alvarez vs. the lefties
Pedro Alvarez got the start and went 2 for 5 against the left-hander Cliff Lee. The night before, Alvarez got just his 10th career home run against a lefty when he tagged reliever Antonio Bastardo. It was his first home off a left-handed pitcher since Sept. 16, 2012.
“We'll see where he takes it,” Hurdle said. “We all need to work on getting a little better every night, and Pedro's left-on-left thing, he's working hard on it. He's not happy with where it's at, but a home run I think could build some confidence.”
McCutchen snaps skid
Andrew McCutchen snapped a career-worst 0-for-17 skid with a single in the seventh inning. Prior to that, the All-Star outfielder's longest stretch without a hit was 16 at-bats (Sept. 25-29, 2012 and April 25-29, 2011).
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.
- Pirates trade Davis to A’s for international signing bonus money
- Pirates enter Plan B with Martin off market
- Pirates cut ties with Davis, clearing path for Alvarez to play first base
- Pirates ready to protect top pitching prospects from Rule 5 draft
- Pirates notebook: Team offered catcher Martin 4-year contract