Couple of Pirates relievers pick career firsts in win over the Marlins

Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day
Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Game 2 of the Pirates 2024 season was supposed to be a duel between two left-handed pitchers with very different styles. The Bucs were sending veteran left-hander Martin Perez to the mound. Perez put together a solid Spring after pitching 15 innings and only gave up 1 run while striking out 16. So there was a lot of interest in what his debut would be like.

The same can be said about the Marlins pitcher, AJ Puk. The former Florida Gator ace was making his first career start, after being used as a high-leverage reliever in 2023. Puk had a great Spring as well pitching 13.2 innings, punching out 23 hitters, while only giving up 2 total runs.

Well, neither really lived up to the billing. Puk was bad and essentially why the Pirates were able to take game 2 of the opening series. He only pitched 2 innings and gave up 4 runs. Those runs were all pretty much self-inflicted as he walked a total of 6 batters overall. Perez was a little better obviously, but he had to be pulled in the 5th inning after getting into a jam and accruing a high pitcher count (86). Perez had 3 walks himself but only gave up 1 run.

This led to a great opportunity for a couple of the Pirates new bullpen arms. Ryder Ryan would take the mound, a right-handed arm that made the team out of Spring after being a non-roster invite. Ryan closed the door on the Marlins punching out 2 hitters in a row to end the inning.

He would be relieved by left-handed pitcher Josh Fleming in the 7th inning. Fleming would pitch the next three innings holding down the Marlins to just 2 hits. He struck out 3 hitters but did walk 1 one. He did give up a run in the 9th inning. After a wild pitch moved Marlins shortstop Tim Anderson to third base, Ryan would get a ground out which would allow Anderson to score.

Still, it was great to see the Pirates bullpen once again come in a pitch well.

The two relievers made up for 4.2 innings of work and only gave up one run, and both would leave the game with career achievements. Ryan earned his first Big League win as a pitcher while Fleming picked up a save, the three-inning variety. Jose Hernandez earned his first career save in game 1 against the Marlins.