Hirano allowed one hit and struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save Thursday against the Braves.
With Greg Holland pitching three times in the past four days, Hirano was called upon to secure the win Thursday against the Braves. He proved up to the task, earning his first save of the season. With Holland pitching well, Hirano's chances to close games don't figure to be frequent, though he appears to be second in line in scenarios where Holland is unavailable.
Hirano (1-1) allowed one hit and struck out one over 1.1 innings in Tuesday's 9-6 win over the Braves.
Hirano's off to a wobbly start, but manager Torey Lovullo is sticking by him as a high-leverage reliever. Since getting a vote of confidence from the manager, the 35-year-old has entered close games in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Four of his last five outings have been scoreless, and Hirano has struck out 10 over seven innings this season.
Manager Torey Lovullo said he has no plan to stay away from Hirano in high-leverage situations, Richard Morin of the Arizona Republic reports.
The question of Hirano's role was raised because the reliever has allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks in three innings over four appearances. "I don't want to run away from anybody this quickly in the season," Lovullo said. "He's meant so much to us and done such a great job. I'm still going to give him opportunities to go out there and get big outs. It's just maybe one thing, one push, one good moment that's maybe going to get him over the hump." The right-hander has faced 19 batters, 10 of which reached base safely via a hit or a walk. Lovullo believes the reliever's fastball location is off, something that's supported by BrooksBaseball, which indicates fewer strikes thrown with the four-seamer.
Hirano (0-1) allowed three runs (one earned) on two hits while striking out two and was credited with the loss in Sunday's 8-7 loss to the Dodgers.
Hirano came on to preserve Arizona's two-run lead in the eighth inning after Archie Bradley held serve in the seventh, but the Diamondbacks' defense let him down. An inning-opening error by shortstop Nick Ahmed and miscue by right fielder Adam Jones fueled Los Angeles' three-run inning. It was Hirano's second appearance of the season, and the second time he's allowed runs. The right-handed reliever has allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk over two innings.
Hirano tossed three scoreless spring innings while Holland allowed five runs in 3.2 frames, but Holland nevertheless got the job. Hirano always appeared to be a long shot, so the bigger surprise is that Holland also beat out Archie Bradley for the job. It's unclear if Hirano or Bradley is next in line.
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