Short-handed 'pen can't save Chen, but wins at the end
Rookie Wittgren follows McGowan, Barraclough struggles with three perfect frames
By Glenn Sattell
Special to MLB.com |
MIAMI -- Good and rested, Nick Wittgren saved an otherwise shaky effort from the Marlins' bullpen in Thursday night's 4-3, 12-inning win over the Pirates.
Wittgren earned his first career win, throwing three perfect innings while striking out three. It was his longest stint in seven Major League outings. He was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on May 26, pitched that day and the following night, and hadn't pitched since.
"He was pretty impressive tonight," manager Don Mattingly said.
Wittgren had to be. The Marlins were without top setup man David Phelps and closer A.J. Ramos, who both worked in Tuesday's and Wednesday's games. Ramos had appeared in three of the last four games for Miami.
"We knew we had some guys down tonight, but I thought some guys stepped up and it's just what you have to do," Mattingly said. "We made a commitment that we're not going to use Phelps, we're not going to use A.J., we're not going to use [Mike] Dunn.
"We've got confidence that we're going to be in this thing for the long haul, and if we end up breaking these guys early over one game, then we're going to be in trouble."
So after the bullpen wasted starter Wei-Yin Chen's stellar outing, which included six innings of no-hit ball, Wittgren saved the day.
He said he simply went out with the mindset of attacking the zone.
"I just went out and executed my pitches," Wittgren said. "You have a lot of adrenaline that kicks in and it helps you to not think too much out there. Overthinking will always get you in trouble."
The third reliever out of an already taxed bullpen, Wittgren said he was in it for the long haul.
"I was the freshest guy down there," he said. "So in that case, in an extra-inning game, you're expecting to go deep and help the team out as much as possible."
Chen retired the side in order in five of the first six innings he worked. However, a leadoff double by Jung Ho Kang in the seventh inning followed by a walk to Chris Stewart spelled the end of the line for the lefty, who threw 100 pitches, 64 for strikes.
Both of those runners crossed the plate as reliever Dustin McGowan yielded a two-run double to Matt Joyce, making it a one-run game. McGowan was able to keep it there in the eighth inning with a 5-4-3 double play after giving up a double then hitting a batter to start the inning.
"I thought Mac did a good job," Mattingly said. "He gets the two outs and then he missed his spot a little bit. Then he comes back the next inning and gives us a zero."
Kyle Barraclough worked the ninth for his first career save opportunity. But he couldn't convert, giving up the tying run on a hit, a walk, a wild pitch and a hit batter.
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Marlins on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.