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Diekman thrown into fire, puts it out

The SportsXchange

Jake Diekman's official welcome to the major leagues came not with a velvet glove and cushy lead. It didn't even take place with the ease that comes with a game where the results have pretty much been determined.

No, the Phillies' left-handed reliever's debut was the biggest blowtorch position that a young pitcher could possibly face on Tuesday against the Houston Astros.

Diekman entered a tie game in the ninth inning with runners on second and third with two out.

"I really didn't have any time to get nervous whatsoever," Diekman said.

It showed. Diekman recorded four outs, three on strikeouts, and picked up the win in Philadelphia's 4-3, 10-inning victory over Houston.

"I don't think I could ever dream up getting a win in my debut," Diekman said. "It's pretty crazy."

And it came in a spot that the Phillies didn't necessarily want nor plan on him being in. Diekman had not made an appearance since being called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley last Friday.

The Phillies decided against having Diekman come into Monday night's 5-1 victory over the Astros because closer Jonathan Papelbon was warmed up and ready for the ninth inning before they tacked on some runs.

"But when we got in that situation (on Tuesday), we figured that we might as well get him used to being in the big leagues," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Part of Diekman's appeal is a side-winding delivery that makes his ball very difficult to pick up. It was something that team officials had worked on with him since 2009.

"I don't know if I'd be here if I didn't go through what I went through in 09, changing my arm slot and everything," Diekman said. "That was the best thing that ever could have happened."
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