Dario Agrazal, bats prop up Pirates in victory against Brewers | TribLIVE.com

Dario Agrazal, bats prop up Pirates in victory against Brewers

Jerry DiPaola
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Fans celebrate a ground-rule double by the Pirates’ Corey Dickerson during the first inning.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Dario Agrazal delivers during the first inning against the Brewers Saturday, July 6, 2019, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Pirates’ Corey Dickerson celebrates with Colin Moran after they scored during the first inning against the Brewers Saturday, July 6, 2019, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman drives in two runs with a hit during the first inning. Newman went 4 for 5 with three RBIs.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Fans reach for a home run ball hit by the Brewers’ Mike Moustakas during the first inning against the Pirates Saturday, July 6, 2019, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Michael Feliz celebrates after getting the third out of the seventh inning against the Brewers.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson leaves the field with trainer Bryan Housand after being injured during the seventh inning against the Brewers Saturday, July 6, 2019, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Dario Agrazal throws during the third inning against the Brewers Saturday, July 6, 2019, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage talks with pitcher Dario Agrazal delivers during the sixth inning against the Brewers Saturday, July 6, 2019, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates cenetr fielder Starling Marte drives in two run during the sixth inning against the Brewers Saturday, July 6, 2019, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman makes a catch during the third inning against the Brewers Saturday, July 6, 2019, at PNC Park.

Dario Agrazal and Kevin Newman were not starters coming out of spring training.

Agrazal was headed to Altoona, a Double-A team, after he had been designated for assignment in January and unclaimed by every other team. He was in Bradenton, Fla., with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but without a spot on the 40-man roster.

Kevin Newman lost the competition for the starting shortstop job to Erik Gonzalez. Then, Newman was shoved further down the depth chart when Gonzalez was injured and the Pirates handed the position to Cole Tucker.

But look at what happened by virtue of their patience and hard work.

Agrazal pitched the first six innings of the Pirates’ 12-2 victory Saturday night against the Milwaukee Brewers, winning his second decision in his third major league start in front of a crowd of 28,038.

Newman, who seized the job from Tucker, was 4 for 5 with a home run and three RBIs, raising his numbers in those categories to six and 32 while his average ballooned to .324, second on the team.

At the end of the night, the Pirates (43-45) shoved the Brewers (47-43) out of first place in the National League Central. The Pirates trail the first-place Chicago Cubs by 3½ games with one game left before the All-Star break.

“We’re trying to go out there and get wins every night,” Newman said, “and hopefully make things real interesting.”

They didn’t do it alone. The Pirates got three scoreless innings from relievers Michael Feliz, Richard Rodriguez and Montana DuRapau. Rodriguez stretched his string of scoreless innings to 1713.

Meanwhile, the offense scored in double digits for the fifth time in the past 13 games and collected 17 hits. Included in the total were Melky Cabrera’s sixth home run, four hits and three RBIs from Colin Moran and a triple and three RBIs by Starling Marte.

Newman, who made a lunging stop in the hole at shortstop to retire Lorenzo Cain in the eighth inning, has shown surprising power. His sixth home run represents two more than he hit in any season in the minors.

“I never try to hit home runs,” he said. “It’s just something that happens. I’ve been in the weight room a little bit more this year. Maybe that’s where it’s coming from.”

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Newman’s success is a product of his confident approach in the batter’s box.

“This is the most confident he’s been in a Pirates uniform,” he said. “He’s shown the hit ability to drive the ball down the right-center-field gap and down the right-field line. We’re seeing a young hitter grow up before our eyes.”

Agrazal also is growing up fast. He was handed the start Saturday after Trevor Williams was placed on the paternity list.

The key was his fearless attitude in attacking the strike zone against the Brewers. As a result, he maintained the upper hand throughout his six innings.

Agrazal, who defeated the Houston Astros on June 27, allowed home runs by Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal but only three other hits through six innings. Agrazal struck out one, and half of his outs (nine of 18) were fly balls in the outfield.The Brewers put only two runners in scoring position when he was on the mound.

He worked quickly, trusting catcher Elias Diaz to make the proper call.

“His poise, his mound presence and the aggressive nature in which he’s getting after it,” Hurdle said, “they’re all really good signs from a pitcher’s first time up and less than a handful of major league starts.

“There doesn’t seem to be much panic.”

Agrazal said he just followed the plan.

“I believe what’s giving me so much success is my plan of maintaining focus, going up there prepared and trusting in my plan,” he said.

“Recognizing that this is just another game, and so far it’s working out for me. My mentality has always been attack mode. I don’t like to put myself in any situation where I’m thinking too much. I love to compete.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pirates
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.