Pirates' Double-A notebook: Lambo a natural for the cycle
ALTOONA — Andrew Lambo not only became the first player in Double-A Altoona Curve history to hit for the cycle on Tuesday night in a win at Akron, he also did it in order.
A single in the first inning.
A double in the third.
A triple in the fourth and a home run to lead off the fifth.
Lambo, 24, said he had no idea what was at stake when he stepped to the plate for his fourth at-bat.
Even when he got back to the dugout and his teammates started high-fiving him, he thought it was just the typical home run congratulations.
“Then when (hitting coach Ryan Long) gave me a hug I kind of knew it was a little more than that, and I sat back and realized,” Lambo said. “Obviously you get some hits, you're feeling the barrel and you're feeling good, but I wasn't going up there thinking I needed to hit a home run. I just wanted to put a good swing on it.”
It was the first cycle in major or minor league baseball in 2013. Lambo's cycle was the first in the Eastern League since Manny Machado did it Aug. 4, 2012, with Double-A Bowie.
There have only been 14 natural cycles in Major League Baseball history, and none since 2006 when Gary Matthews Jr. did it with the Texas Rangers against the Detroit Tigers.
Once one of the most highly regarded prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers' system, Lambo didn't even rank in the Pirates' top 50 heading into the season.
He split the 2011 season between Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis but struggled with the Indians. In 2012, a wrist injury limited him to 26 games with Altoona and nine with the Gulf Coast League Pirates.
Lambo said he feels more mentally prepared this season than in years past.
“I felt in my mind that I've always had it physically,” he said. “Mentally it takes guys a certain amount of years to get the drift, and mentally was I there? I couldn't tell you. … I made a real big point to go into this offseason and work really hard physically and mentally to get prepared to play the season, and I think it's paying off. It's still early, but going into spring I felt in great shape mentally and physically, and I think it's going to carry over. Now the thing is just sustaining it and keeping it going.”
In the Curve's first six games of 2013, they scored first and had at least one run by the end of the second inning.
Seven of their first 59 hits were home runs. In 2012 they didn't hit their seventh home run until May 2, and two of the home runs were inside the park. Their last inside-the-park homer prior to that season was in 2008.
Pimentel debuts strong
Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel allowed no runs on just two hits, walked one and struck out four in his Curve debut April 7. Pimentel came from the Boston Red Sox as part of the Joel Hanrahan trade in December.