Pirates retake lead in NLDS Game 3 on Russell Martin’s sacrifice fly

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The Pirates put a bunch of runners on base in the bottom of the sixth inning and in doing so, chased Cardinals starter Joe Kelly. Andrew McCutchen led off the inning with a walk. Following a lazy fly out by Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd continued his torrid hitting with a double to left, putting runners on second and third with one out. With Pedro Alvarez coming to the plate, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny ordered the intentional walk to load the bases before pulling Kelly for reliever Seth Maness.

Russell Martin swung at the first pitch he saw from Maness, a 91 MPH sinker, driving a high fly ball to center fielder Jon Jay. McCutchen scored easily, putting the Pirates up 3-2 with two outs in the sixth. Jose Tabata, pinch-hitting for Clint Barmes, grounded out to end the inning. As part of a double-switch, Jordy Mercer came in at shortstop in the nine-spot in the lineup.

Pirates starter Francisco Liriano did not take the hill in the seventh, having thrown 101 pitches. Reliever Tony Watson entered in the eight-spot in the lineup.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.