Pitching holds up, as Pirates split with Brewers
Aaron Thompson spent the 24 hours before his major-league debut Wednesday talking to injured starters Kevin Correia and Paul Maholm, watching the Brewers hit and reviewing his game plan with pitching coach Ray Searage.
It was time well spent.
The left-hander held the Brewers scoreless for 4.1 innings and, though he didn't figure in the decision, set the stage for the Pirates' 2-0 series finale victory at PNC Park.
"Some of their big guys don't like it in, and that's something we preached from spring training on is to pitch in," Thompson said. "The game plan worked."
Thompson allowed four hits, struck out one — Prince Fielder, no less — and walked two.
The bullpen resembled the unit from the first half of the season, as Jason Grilli, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan allowed just one hit the rest of the way while striking out eight Brewers.
The Pirates managed only four hits, but Jose Tabata and Josh Harrison made them count. Tabata went 2 for 4 with double and scored a run, and Harrison finished 1 for 3 with a double and a run.
The Brewers, one of the National League's top offensive teams, hardly count as an enviable assignment, particularly for a pitcher making his first start.
Thompson began the year with Double-A Altoona and was promoted Aug. 10 to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he came out of the bullpen for three games before making two starts.
The 24-year-old former first-round pick of the Florida Marlins started the game by giving up a single to Corey Hart, then sat down Jerry Hairston Jr., Ryan Braun and Fielder in order.
"He stepped into a difficult situation, and he went out there and stepped up," said manager Clint Hurdle, praising Thompson's two-seam fastball and changeup. "To me, he looked polished out there, like he'd done this a number of times. The biggest thing for me, both him and Brad Lincoln (on Monday), was that they pitched inside. They worked away; they changed speeds, up and down, in and out; but he worked the ball in. I don't think he threw the ball over 90 mph today, but you don't have to have velocity to be effective."
It was the 11th time the Brewers have been shut out this year and the first since July 21 at Arizona.
The Pirates entered the series with a 12-game losing streak against the Brewers but managed a series split with yesterday's win.
"It just goes to show you, these kids, they go down and battle, they pitch," Hurdle said. "You just don't know what the correlation's going to be when you move them up. You give them an opportunity and let them make the most of it, and (Thompson) obviously made a very good first impression."