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Nicasio debuts with 4-out save for Cardinals

Recently acquired reliever makes quick work of former team
Special to MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals didn't have to wait long to see what kind of impact Juan Nicasio could make on their beleaguered bullpen. As first impressions go, it couldn't have been better.

Nicasio made quick work of the final four outs, nailing down his third save of the season, in the Cardinals' 4-1 win against the visiting Pirates on Friday night at Busch Stadium.

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ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals didn't have to wait long to see what kind of impact Juan Nicasio could make on their beleaguered bullpen. As first impressions go, it couldn't have been better.

Nicasio made quick work of the final four outs, nailing down his third save of the season, in the Cardinals' 4-1 win against the visiting Pirates on Friday night at Busch Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

"That was a fun ninth inning," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Came in, came right at them. Got some quick outs. You see 98 [mph]. You see hard cut in the low 90s. What's there not to love about that? I think he's going to be a good fit for us. We'll try to figure out how to plug in the different pieces. But the bullpen overall did a nice job for us. It's good to have Juan with us."

Matheny said Tyler Lyons wasn't available Friday and he told Nicasio, acquired from the Phillies in a trade this week for a Minor League infielder, that he would pitch the ninth.

"He wants the ball," Matheny said. "He wants to be in there in big situations, and we're going to give them to him."

Nicasio has been busy the past two weeks, going from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and now the Cardinals, but he has quickly embraced that challenge with his new team, a group that keeps pushing for a spot in the postseason.

Standings: NL Central | Wild Card

The 31-year-old right-hander said he didn't have any nervousness making his debut with St. Louis.

"I just felt really excited," Nicasio said through an interpreter. "I've been around for a while, I'm a veteran, so I'm used to this. I'm here to compete, and that's what I'm doing."

Nicasio showed what kind of competitor he was with two outs in the eighth. Entering in relief of lefty Ryan Sherriff with a man on first, Nicasio induced a soft grounder from David Freese.

Video: PIT@STL: Nicasio makes barehanded play to end top 8th

The reliever ranged to his right, toward third base, fielded the grounder barehanded and fired an off-balance throw toward first, where Jose Martinez scooped it for the final out of the inning.

"I really like high-leverage situations like that," Nicasio said. "That play I was able to make just kind of showcases how well I'm able to compete. ... I saw [Matt Carpenter] was kind of playing behind third base and I said it's going to be difficult for him so let me just try to step in, and I was able to complete it."

In the ninth, Nicasio retired Jordan Luplow, Elias Diaz and Jordy Mercer on just six pitches.

"He does what he does, you saw it tonight," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's aggressive on the mound. The fastball, he's going to get after it, slider, little split, changeup, very athletic on the one play as well. That's a play very few pitchers can make."

Nicasio seemed to relish his newfound opportunity with the Cardinals.

"I was brought here to compete, I was brought here to help the team win, and I'm happy that I was able to help the team do that tonight," he said.

Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Louis.

St. Louis Cardinals, Juan Nicasio