Fill-in OFs help Pirates to 4-3 victory over Cardinals
As their top outfield prospect continued to toil in the minor leagues Saturday, the Pirates were forced to play their backup first baseman and starting shortstop in right field in a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
After Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen were cut down by injuries, Gaby Sanchez played the fifth, sixth and seventh innings in right field. Jordy Mercer went into right in the eighth inning.
Neither Sanchez nor Mercer had played in the outfield before in the majors. Mercer appeared in left field in one game for Triple-A Indianapolis in 2011.
“I told them, ‘Play deep and straight up and you'll be fine,' '' said McCutchen, who could not play due to what the team termed “left foot soreness.”
McCutchen said he can't pinpoint the cause of his injury but expects to play Sunday night when the Pirates will try to sweep the three-game series.
On April 11, McCutchen left a game against the Milwaukee Brewers in the eighth inning with discomfort in his left ankle. He was back in the lineup the next day.
Marte started in center field Saturday, even though he has been bothered by tightness in his lower back. After hitting a weak grounder in the third inning, Marte walked away in obvious discomfort. Sanchez pinch-hit for Marte in the fourth.
“It's been hurting for a while,” said Marte, who winced as he tugged on his socks.
There was no immediate word on the severity of the injuries to McCutchen and Marte, or if the Pirates will bring up an extra outfielder from Indianapolis on Sunday.
“Why don't we talk about the game first, and we'll talk about the injuries later?” manager Clint Hurdle snapped after the game.
On Friday, the Pirates filled an open spot on their active roster by calling up infielder Brent Morel from Indy. They bypassed outfielders Gregory Polanco (who's batting .373), Jaff Decker (.240) and Chris Dickerson (.312).
Polanco, 22, is the highest-rated prospect in the Pirates' system and, like Decker, already is on the 40-man roster. Dickerson, who signed a minor league deal over the winter, has six years' experience in the big leagues.
Neither Sanchez nor Mercer needed to record an out in the outfield.
“There's going to be nerves because I've never done it,” Sanchez said.
“I was trying to take it like it was (batting practice) and I was shagging balls. I'm glad nothing got hit over there. But I can catch fly balls. It's just a different angle, a different spot.”
Mercer never even played outfield in Little League.
“I had to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” Mercer said. “I didn't question it one bit. I got an outfielder's glove and got ready. End of story.”
Trailing 3-0 in the fourth inning, the Pirates loaded the bases with none out off Cardinals starter Lance Lynn (4-2). Two run-scoring grounders and three straight singles gave them a one-run lead.
Starting pitcher Edinson Volquez hit a bouncer to shortstop, which drove in Ike Davis. Jose Tabata's grounder to second scored Tony Sanchez.
Josh Harrison's low liner ricocheted off the pitcher's mound away from second baseman Mark Ellis, who was breaking toward the bag. By the time Ellis backtracked to the ball, Harrison was at first base with an infield single that scored Mercer to tie the game at 3-3.
Neil Walker's single moved Mercer to third. Pedro Alvarez followed with a run-scoring single up the middle — the first time in nine at-bats that he hit the ball out of the infield.
The four-run outburst covered for a spotty outing by Volquez. The right-hander worked only 4 2⁄3 innings and gave up three runs on four hits, walked three, hit one batter and fired two wild pitches.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Burnett’s farewell tour wishlist has just 1 item: Pirates World Series
- Sawchik: Should McCutchen really get a huge salary bump?
- Pirates notebook: Infield prospect Hanson used to playing elders
- Rossi: Pirates better with Maz on scene
- Pirates notebook: Tabata rediscovering his power
- Pirates looking at ways to make McCutchen’s off days more productive
- Pirates willing to consider high salary to keep star McCutchen
- Ex-Brewers star Hart hopes to prove to Pirates he still can play