20-year-old Wilson pitches Braves past Pirates 1-0 in debut
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Bryse Wilson was pitching for his high school team in Hillsborough, North Carolina, barely two years ago. Now, he’s 1-0 in the major leagues.
Wilson worked five solid innings, becoming the third 20-year-old pitcher to start in his big league debut for Atlanta this season in the Braves’ 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
“Never,” Wilson said when asked if he could envision being in the major leagues so soon. “I thought I would move up one step at a time. I never expected this.”
Wilson allowed three hits, struck out five and walked three as Atlanta increased its NL East lead to one game over idle Philadelphia while ending its four-game skid. The Braves purchased the right-hander’s contract from Triple-A Gwinnett prior to the game so they could give their regular starters a rest.
Wilson began the season at Class A Florida and went a combined 8-5 with a 3.23 ERA in 23 starts in the minor leagues. He was the Braves’ fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft.
“I was impressed by everything about him,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He kind of carried himself like I expected. He has a lot of confidence from everything I’ve heard about him and what little I’ve known him. That’s his makeup.”
Mike Soroka was 20 when he started May 1 against the Mets at New York and Koby Allard did it on July 31 against Miami.
The last team to use three starters before they reached their 21st birthday in a season was the 1965 Kansas City Athletics with Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter, Don Buschhorn and Ron Tompkins.
Five relievers finished the seven-hitter. Dan Winkler pitched the ninth, working around a leadoff single for his second save.
Pittsburgh has allowed exactly one run in five straight games — including four against the NL Central-leading Cubs — but lost three of them. The organization hasn’t done that since July 13-18, 1888, when they were the Alleghenys, according to Stats.
“I think we’d all like to score runs,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “From that standpoint, guys are up there battling. I don’t see anybody lost. I don’t see anybody confused. I see guys just not getting hits.”
The Braves scored in the first inning when Freddie Freeman hit a two-out double and scored on Nick Markakis’ single.
Center fielder Ender Inciarte preserved the lead in the seventh he when he threw out Adeiny Hechavarria trying to score from second base on Corey Dickerson’s single to end the inning. Hechavarria said he was “100 percent safe” but the call was upheld after a video review.
“I knew he was going to be running on contact and I had to make a play,” Inciarte said. “I got a good hop and was able to get off a good throw.”
Pirates starter Chris Archer (4-6) was removed after four innings because of left leg discomfort. Archer was injured while batting in the third inning, falling as he attempted to check his swing while striking out.
Hurdle and a trainer visited the mound after Archer warmed up before the fourth, but he remained in the game for one more inning. The Pirates are optimistic Archer will make his next scheduled start Sunday at Milwaukee.
Archer allowed one run and five hits with three strikeouts and one walk. He is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in four starts for Pittsburgh since being acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade.
“The one thing that I’ve always prided myself in in this game is being on the field, but I think it was the smart move,” Archer said. “Just trying to be smart so that I can be out there in five days instead of letting it linger and potentially doing something worse.”
The only bad moment for Wilson came when he appeared to single with two outs in the fourth inning, but was thrown out at first base by right fielder Gregory Polanco.
Atlanta’s Johan Camargo reached base in all four plate appearances with three singles and a walk.
Pirates: 2B Josh Harrison (strained left hamstring) did not play.
The Braves designated veteran infielder Ryan Flaherty for assignment to open a roster spot for Wilson and outrighted left-hander Chad Bell to Gwinnett.
The Pirates shuffled left-handed relievers, recalling Steven Brault from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioning Buddy Boshers. Brault replaced Archer and pitched two scoreless innings.
Pirates center fielder Starling Marte was benched a day after he failed to hustle twice while running the bases in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in 11 innings. Marte pinch-hit in the ninth inning and grounded out.
20 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
Braves rookie outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who’s also 20, was chosen as the NL Player of the Week after going 13 for 28 (.464) with four home runs in eight games.
Braves veteran right-hander Brandon McCarthy joked on Twitter about Atlanta’s plethora of youngsters.
“Are you under 21 and looking to make some last minute summer cash? Try out for the @Braves,” he wrote.
Braves: RHP Kevin Gausman (7-9, 4.22 ERA) will pitch Tuesday night and is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts since being acquired from Baltimore in a trade.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (7-7, 4.26 ERA) has won all three career starts against Atlanta with a 1.69 ERA.