They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Well, quite the impression Andy Marte made Thursday night at Chase Field.
In his very first at-bat in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform, only hours after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Reno, Marte homered, a pinch-hit tie-breaking two-run blast into the left field seats in the sixth inning.
“Just looking for any good pitch to hit,” he said after the 7-4 series-opening victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in front an announced crowd of 20,145. “(Jeff Locke) made a mistake right there and I put a good swing on it.”
For Marte, who arrived at the ballpark 30 minutes after the game started, it was his first big league at-bat, let alone his first home run, in four years.
“I feel like I’m back,” he said with a smile.
Marte last played in the majors with Cleveland in 2010, and became the eighth player to hit a home run in his first at-bat with the D-backs, who have now won six of eight at home.
Aaron Hill and Nick Ahmed also homered to help give Kirk Gibson his 338th managerial win, the most in franchise history.
“It means we got a long way to go. We’d like to do those type of celebrations (after) winning the World Championship. I’ve got to do that as a player two times,” said Gibson, who was delayed to his postgame press conference due to a beer shower courtesy of his players.
“It’s been kind of an interesting day today; tough day for us all. We played well. To kind of cap it off that way, it’s certainly a day I’ll remember.”
The Diamondbacks’ first two runs were gift-wrapped by Ike Davis. With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning, the former ASU Sun Devil dropped Pedro Alvarez’s throw from third allowing Mark Trumbo and Jordan Pacheco to score and tie the game.
Pacheco, by the way, reinstated from the 15-day disabled list three days ago, went 2-for-4, including a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning that tied the game at 3. Pacheco had missed more than four weeks because of right shoulder tendinitis.
Hill made it 13 straight starts reaching base safely with a two-out walk in the third inning. And just for good measure, he added a solo home run into the Diamondbacks bullpen in the sixth, his ninth of the season. Hill is hitting .346 (18-for-52) since July 12.
Outstanding double play turned by Hill and Ahmed in the eighth inning. First, Hill made a sliding stop on Russell Martin’s grounder up the middle. He then flipped the ball to Ahmed, who, in one motion, caught it bare-handed, spun and fired to first.
The next half-inning, Ahmed showed he has some pop in his bat, hitting his first career home run. The ball just did clear the left field fence for the Diamondbacks’ seventh run of the game, matching the number of runs they scored in the entire three-game series at Cincinnati.
After a quick 1-2-3, 11-pitch first inning, Josh Collmenter labored through a 35-pitch second inning. The first three hitters reached base safely, including Martin who plated the two batters in front of him with a double off the wall in left field to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
Handed the lead going into the sixth inning, Collmenter coughed it up. With one out, Neil Walker hammered the first pitch he saw over the right field fence and into the pool area for a game-tying solo home run, ending a streak of 10 straight batters retired. The homer, the fourth allowed in his last three starts, knocked Collmenter out of the game.
STAT OF THE GAME
338: The number of Gibson’s managerial wins, the most in franchise history surpassing Bob Melvin
HE SAID IT
“We played a good all-around game,” Gibson said. “Locke stuck it to us the last time we faced him. Made some good adjustments on him tonight. Made some good plays. That’s what we aim to do for the rest of the year.”
• The Diamondbacks’ first three hits were all infield singles
• Oliver Perez recorded the win in consecutive appearances for the first time as a reliever
• Didi Gregorius was the last player to homer in his first Diamondbacks at-bat, joining John Hester (2009), Gerardo Parra (2009), Felipe Lopez (2009), Jose Cruz Jr. (2005), Bobby Estalella (2004) and Alex Cabrera (2000)
Vidal Nuno, acquired from the Yankees on July 6 for Brandon McCarthy and cash considerations, makes his fifth attempt at his first win in a Diamondbacks uniform. He gets the ball in game two of the four-game series on Friday, Aug. 1. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
In his last start, Nuno (0-2, 3.47) took the loss after allowing four runs, two earned, on four hits in 6.2 innings at Philadelphia. This will be his second career start against the Pirates, who counter with Edinson Volquez (8-7, 3.87). The veteran right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his last four road outings.