On Friday night in the Arizona Fall League, Joely Rodriguez made his sixth start of the season and he continued his strong, season-long performance. All three Pittsburgh Pirates hitters were in the starting lineup, as Scottsdale defeated Glendale 1-0, giving them an 11-17 record. There are five games left in the AFL season.
Rodriguez gave up a walk and a single in the first inning, but managed to avoid any damage by getting a double play ground ball and a well-placed line drive that ended the inning. Rodriguez needed just nine pitches to get through the inning, four went for strikes. He had a strong second inning, though it did take 15 pitches to record two strikeouts and a fly out to left field. The batters went down swinging in both strikeouts.
In the third inning, Rodriguez worked his way out of trouble. He gave up a lead-off single, then picked up his third strikeout. He hit the next batter, before getting a line drive to center field for the second out. Rodriguez loaded the bases when he gave up a hard hit grounder that made it’s way into left field. He retired the side without damage by getting the sixth batter of the inning to ground out to third base.
Rodriguez struck out the lead-off batter in the fourth. He then gave up a line drive single to center field. Rodriguez got out of the inning quickly with two infield pop ups. That was the end of his day. He gave up six base runners in four innings, but kept Glendale off the board and lowered his ERA to 0.95, with 19 strikeouts in 19 innings. Rodriguez threw 56 pitches in the game, 33 for strikes.
Angel Sanchez came in to pitch the eighth inning with two outs and a man on first base. He had a seven pitch battle with the first batter he faced, getting him on a grounder back to the mound. Sanchez came back out for the ninth and struck out the first two batters swinging. After a two-out single to right field, he picked up the victory with an exciting play to end the game. The batter drove a line drive to left field that resulted in a double and a play at the plate for the final out. Sanchez has now pitched ten innings without allowing an earned run.
Josh Bell was the DH on Friday night. He came into the game with a .227/.338/.333 slash line through 66 at-bats. Facing former Pirate pitcher Wei-Chung Wang, Bell struck out swinging in his first at-bat. In the fourth inning, he popped up to second base. He grounded out to shortstop to end the sixth inning. He finished the game 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
Leading off the third inning, Dan Gamache grounded out to second base. Two innings later, he flew out to center field. He ended the seventh inning with a ground out to second base. He finished 0-for-3 on the day.
In his first at-bat, Elias Diaz struck out swinging. In the fifth inning, he singled on a grounder up the middle. Diaz singled to lead-off the eighth, then came around to score the only run of the game two batters later after a sacrifice bunt and a fielding error. On defense, Diaz threw out the only runner that attempted to steal a base.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.