If Diamondbacks’ general manager Kevin Towers thought he pushed the right buttons on the trades of Gerardo Parra and Martin Prado earlier in the day Thursday, he certainly hit the right one later.
To help fill roster spots vacated by Parra and Prado, Towers recalled infielder Andy Marte from Triple-A Reno and Marte came through in style.
Now with his third major league team, Marte wasted no time in making his presence noticed.
Coming up as a pinch hitter with a runner on first and none out in the sixth inning, Marte smacked an 0-1 pitch from Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke into the left field bleachers and his two-run homer powered the Diamondbacks to a 7-4 victory over the Pirates before 20,145 in Chase Field.
Catching a plane from Fresno, where the Aces had a game scheduled against the Giants’ Triple-A Bees, Marte arrived at Chase Field in the middle of the second inning. While manager Kirk Gibson’s first thought was to use Marte as a defensive replacement at third for Jordan Pacheco, Gibson rationalized Marte’s unfamiliarity with the Chase Field terrain might be a mistake.
Instead, Gibson instructed Marte to grab a bat and stay ready. His time came in the bottom of the sixth. With the score tied and Nick Ahmed, who led off the frame with a single to left, on first, Marte took care of the rest.
“Walking out of the dugout, I said to myself, ‘just be ready,’” he said. “It was a change-up and I was looking for any pitch to hit. The home run felt great and I feel I’m back.”
Down 2-0 early, the Diamondbacks rallied for a 3-2 lead in the fifth but Pirates’ second baseman Neil Walker crushed a hanging curve from starter Josh Collmenter over the right-field fence to knot matters at 3-3 in the top of the sixth.
“I didn’t make the pitches I need to make,” Collmenter said. “Just have to be better next time. I was really frustrated by that pitch to Walker but you have to hang in there and try and give your team a chance to win. As a pitcher, your aim is to keep it close.”
Then, the come-back in the sixth and that’s when Marte took center stage.
“I knew what (Marte) could do,” Gibson said afterward. “We had him in spring training. Overall on (Thursday night), I thought we made some adjustments to Locke because he pitched a strong game us in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. It was good to see the players react they way they did and we plan to do that the rest of the year.”
The home run was Marte‘s first since September 8, 2010 when he was Cleveland against the Angels. While this was his first career pinch-hit home run, Marte became the eighth player in franchise history to hit a home run his first time at bat for Arizona.
At Triple-A Reno, the 30-year-old native of the Dominican Republic hit 13 bombs for the Aces and drove in 62 runs in 102 games.
After Marte‘s game-changer, Aaron Hill followed one out later with his ninth home run of the season. That’s when he deposited a Locke fastball into the Diamondbacks bullpen. That created a three-run margin and from there, the bullpen of Evan Marshall, Brad Ziegler and Addison Reed preserved the victory.
With the trading of Gerardo Parra and Martin Prado Thursday, the Diamondbacks juggled their roster.
In addition to calling up Marte, the Diamondbacks also recalled outfielder Roger Kieschnick from Triple-A Reno.
In 19 games previously with Arizona, Kieschnick hit .207 (6-for-29) with one double, one home run and 2 RBIs.
Marte, at 30-years-old , has six major league seasons in the books, including tours of duty with the Braves and Indians. In 102 with Triple-A Reno this season, he hit .330 (124-376) with 26 doubles, 13 home runs and those 62 RBIs.
With the win, Gibson has now managed 338 Arizona victories and passed Bob Melvin for most wins by a Diamondbacks’ manager in franchise history.
Gibson showed up for his post-game media session holding a beer-soaked towel.
“Beer shower from the guys,” he smiled, “but we have a long way to go. The goal is win a World Series and we strive for that every day."