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Agrazal shows he ‘belongs,’ but hurt by defense


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The Marlins' Garrett Cooper slides safely around Elias Diaz's tag Saturday in Miami. - AP

MIAMI – Throwing an above average sinker is what got Dario Agrazal to the major leagues.

A sinkerballer, though, needs a good defensive infield behind him because hitters tend to pound so many of those pitches into the ground. And that’s where Agrazal was let down on Saturday night in his major-league debut.

Adam Frazier’s throwing error proved pivotal in a three-run fourth inning in which the Marlins tied the game on their way to overtaking the Pirates, 4-3, at Marlins Park. The loss was the eighth in nine games for the Pirates (31-39).

Called up from Class AAA Indianapolis to help an injury-depleted rotation, Agrazal held the Marlins scoreless over the first three innings, facing just 10 batters – one over the minimum. Then things went askew in the fourth, thanks in part to Frazier’s miscue.

“Great,” Frazier said when asked to assess Agrazal’s outing. “He pitched like he belongs here. He missed barrels all night and their hits were mostly on jam shots. That’s the name of the game: Miss barrels. He did a great job, but I made the error and that cost us the game.”

With the Pirates leading 3-0, Agrazal allowed a single to Garrett Cooper then hit Brian Anderson with a pitch to start the inning. One out later, Harold Ramirez singled home a run.

JT Riddle then hit a ground ball to Frazier that seemed to have a chance to be turned into an inning-ending double play. Instead, Frazier threw wide of second base and Anderson scored to draw the Marlins within a run. Jorge Alfaro followed with a game-tying single.

Frazier talked about the error:

The Marlins scored the game’s final run, which proved to be the game-winner, in the fifth on a ground out by Starlin Castro off Geoff Hartlieb (0-1).

Clint Hurdle pulled Agrazal after the fourth inning and that move raised some eyebrows because the 24-year-old had thrown just 59 pitches, including 42 for strikes. However, Hurdle’s rationale was that the Marlins were starting to hit balls hard off the right-hander.

“The error extended the inning but they were syncing him up and had four hard-hit balls, as well, that inning,” Hurdle said. “I thought he got us to a manageable point in the game, third time through the lineup, and I thought he pitched really well. I’m proud of him. Anytime you take a guy out and give up runs afterward, you’re always going to have questions to answer. But my job is to take a pitcher out before more runs are scored sometimes. Those are the decisions everyone watching the game likes to make. He brought us through the lineup a couple of times, and I thought he showed up very professionally.”

Agrazal wound up allowing three runs (two earned) and six hits in his four innings with three strikeouts. He did not issue any walks. Though he hit a batter, Agrazal had only one three-ball count on the 19 hitters he faced.

Agrazal's first career strikeout came when he whiffed Castro to begin the second inning:

For a player who was dropped off the 40-man roster in January, Agrazal certainly looked cool in his first time in the big leagues. He admitted he was nervous when he took the mound to start warming up before the bottom of the first inning, but then settled himself before throwing his first pitch that counted.

“Once I got on the mound and I began to feel everything I should be feeling as a ballplayer in that situation, I had accomplished one of my biggest dreams,” Agrazal said through translator Mike Gonzalez. “I started to think about the mega-opportunity, the huge opportunity it was. But, at the moment, I recognized that I needed to calm down and relax because it was just another ballgame and I was out there to help this team win.”

The Pirates didn’t win but it was hard to blame Agrazal, especially since he didn’t get help from his teammates when he needed it most.

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