The Cincinnati Reds came up just short of an incredible comeback last night against the Atlanta Braves, scoring six runs in the 9th inning. Despite the loss it’s a game that rookie relievers Daniel Duarte and Alexis Diaz will never forget.
When the 6th inning began, David Bell went to the bullpen and called Daniel Duarte’s name. The right-hander from Mexico was about to take the mound in the big leagues for the first time. All he had to do was come in and face the heart of the defending World Series champions order. Duarte got the job done. He struck out Ozzie Albies to begin the inning and Marcell Ozuna to end the inning while giving up a double to Matt Olson in the middle of all of that.
Despite being a relief pitcher, Daniel Duarte showed off a full starting pitcher caliber arsenal in his 16-pitch inning. His fastball, which was working 95-97 on the night was working well. He showed his change up to Matt Olson, and then started and ended the at-bat against Marcell Ozuna with a slider.
“Everyone just said congrats,” Duarte said of his teammates when he got back to the dugout after the inning. “It was very exciting.”
The next inning saw Bell go to the bullpen again and this time he called on Alexis Diaz to enter the game, and he too was making his big league debut. Much like Duarte before him, Diaz began and ended his inning of work with a strikeout – he fanned Adam Duvall to start things off and after getting Eddie Rosario to ground out he struck out Travis d’Arnaud on three pitches.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” Diaz said following the game. “It’s an unbelievable experience to play here at the major league level. Actually I felt pretty relaxed, it felt like I had pitched in any other game in the major leagues.”
Diaz needed just 13 pitches to get through his debut. His fastball worked in the 94-97 MPH range, topping out at 97.4 MPH. He picked up two swings and misses on the pitch. But he threw seven sliders in the low-to-mid 80’s and picked up three more swinging strikes on it, too.