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Unheralded trade acquisition Tyler Wagner steps up for Diamondbacks against Giants

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Tyler Wagner throws to the San Francisco Giants during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 21, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

One controversial offseason maneuver by the Arizona Diamondbacks is paying off. Another isn’t.

It just might surprise which is which.

Former Milwaukee Brewers Jean Segura sprayed three hits on the San Francisco Giants on Thursday while reliever Tyler Wagner, acquired in the same trade, stepped in for struggling starting pitcher Shelby Miller to pitch five scoreless innings and earn the 6-2 win.

The D-backs won their fifth straight and swept San Francisco in the Bay Area for the first time in franchise history.

On Thursday, control issues continued for Miller, who in December was the key piece of a trade with the Braves that CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa called the “worst” of the offseason.

Months after that trade, Wagner appeared to be a throw-in to Arizona’s deal with Milwaukee that plugged Segura in Inciarte’s place atop the order.

The starting pitcher had only played in three games as a rookie last season and this spring was on the outside of the competition to win a starting role with the D-backs.

Segura had struggled over the last two years, and the Diamondbacks giving up Aaron Hill’s contract, starting pitcher Chase Anderson and prospect Isan Diaz appeared a bit much. ESPN’s Keith Law was the harshest critic of the move, focusing on Segura, who he labeled as a borderline major-leaguer.

Segura had made that opinion look bad over the first month of the season, but on Thursday, both he and Wagner showed their value.

After being recalled from Triple-A Reno, Wagner pitched two clean innings Monday against the Giants and Thursday entered in the third inning to clean up Miller’s bases-loaded, no-out jam.

Miller walked the first four batters he faced as his control disappeared, but Wagner managed the situation well. The Giants’ Brandon Belt grounded into a double-play that scored a run, tying the game 2-2, before Brandon Crawford hit another ground-out to end the frame.

“I just said, hey, let’s just get out,” Chip Hale told FOX Sports Arizona. “We’ll deal with the score at the end of the inning. Tremendous job and he continued to pitch. We talk about one time through the order, he pitched more than one time through the order and continued to get ground balls. He kept them off-balance.”

Wagner finished the afternoon allowing two hits and no runs while inducing seven ground-outs and three fly-outs to help Arizona reach the eighth inning. Daniel Hudson and Evan Marshall took over from there.

But the reason Wagner needed to cruise for five innings may be more concerning.

Miller lasted 2+ innings and 12 batters after he left his Saturday start having allowed two earned runs. In that outing, the right-hander was lifted after a 1.2-inning performance because of scraping his knuckles on the mound with his follow-through motion. Hale said he didn’t notice Miller re-injuring his hand in the series finale Thursday.

“He was getting outs, his ball was 94, 95, 96 (mph),” the skipper said, adding that the out-of-control pitches registered around 92-93. “We’re going to keep working and keep encouraging him to let that ball go. He knows it’s a long season and he’s going to be one of our better pitchers.”

It’s a long season indeed, one that will truly dispell early opinions of which offseason moves were smart ones, and those that weren’t.

“He’s just trying to be a little too perfect right now.”

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