It was a game featuring the 2019 center fielder for each team playing for the opponent this season as Zac Gallen and the Diamondbacks hosted Hector Noesi and the Pirates. After deciding to upgrade the outfield, the Diamondbacks chose to let Jarrod Dyson walk when his contract was up. The upgrade that the Snake eventually settled on was trading for Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte. Needing a center fielder, the Pirates went out and picked up the recently available Dyson to be Marte’s replacement. Virtual Lovullo was back to using the A-lineup and took no chances with the pitching, going with the A-bullpen as well.
It took no time whatsoever for the excitement to get started as Dyson led off the game by quickly bunting for a hit. Despite a solid throw by Carson Kelly, Dyson was safe by a full step. The Pirates were unable to make anything of the leadoff single though, with Dyson watching from second base as both Josh Bell and Gregory Polanco struck out swinging.
Perhaps Starling Marte was taking umbrage to the notion that Jarrod Dyson was actually replacing him in any sort of meaningful way. That certainly makes for a bit of motivation. The result was a bit of a bloop single by Marte to the gap in left center. This was followed up by a hard-hit double to left by David Peralta, moving Marte to third. That brought up Ketel Marte, who lifted a fly to center field, allowing Starling Marte to score without a throw. Escobar then reached safely when Guillermo Heredia allowed a low liner to bounce off the heel of his glove in left. The error wound up not being costly though, as Christian Walker then grounded into a 6-4-3 twin killing to end the inning.
It was three up and three down for both teams in the second. Zac Gallen recorded another strikeout, the longest at-bat against him of the inning that only took nine pitches. For all his troubles in his last outing, Gallen was in early, dominant command of this game. Hoping perhaps to keep Gallen from getting too comfortable, the Pirates began getting aggressive at the plate. Erik Gonzalez took the first pitch of the third and doubled to the right field gap. Noesi then moved Gonzalez over with a sacrifice bunt. Two pitches late, Dyson flew out to center field, but not deep enough to score Gonzalez. Gallen then had a rough time getting a call and fell behind Kevin Newman 3-0. The pitches were close, but Gallen was not getting any love from behind the plate. Forced to come closer to the heart of the plate, Gallen was tagged hard for a single to right center, scoring Gonzalez. Gallen did not let this shake him though. He got struck out Josh Bell looking to end the inning.
The pirates went in order in both the fourth and fifth innings and managed only a lone single by Newman in the sixth. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks went in order in the third and only managed one single in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, David Peralta started things off with a single. Ketel Marte followed with a single of his own. Escobar then struck out swinging. Christian Walker doubled to the gap. but a solid throw back in held Marte to third base. Peralta scored on the play. Kole Calhoun then hit a fly ball to center, only a step short of the warning track. This allowed Marte to stroll home to score. Carson Kelly was then given an intentional pass. With Nick Ahmed at the plate, Virtual Lovullo go the runners going. Nick Ahmed got every ounce of the ball, rocketing it directly at the second baseman (EV 108.1 mph). All he had to do was reach out to tag Escobar as he was passing by. That ended the inning.
In the seventh inning, Gallen sandwiched his only walk of the evening between a pair of swinging strikeouts by Jacob Stallings and Heredia. Despite Gallen only being at 94 pitches and having been in constant control, Virtual Lovullo chose to bring in Andrew Chafin to get the final out of the inning. That was almost a costly decision. The first batter he faced, Gonzalez, hit a hard single. This then brought up a pinch-hitter, the lefty-hitting Colin Moran. Chafin knew what to do with the platoon advantage and retired Moran on strikes, swinging.
Theat was essentially the last of the action in the game. Ginkel came in and did what the set-up man is supposed to do by throwing a zero up on the board in the eighth. This allowed Loviullo to turn to Archie Bradley for the ninth. Bradley did allow a one-out single, but was dominant nonetheless, getting all three outs via the strikeout as he flashed both a 96 mph fastball and a vintage Bradley curveball.
Final Score PIT 2 - AZ 3
The player of the game was easily Zac Gallen. When he wasn’t being squeezed, he was in complete control of the game, getting through two outs in the seventh while allowing only one run and striking out nine Pirates.
The two teams are at it again tomorrow. Joe Musgrove will take the mound for the Pirates. The Diamondbacks will counter with Luke Weaver.