Punchless Pirates swept by Braves; Rodriguez leaves with injury
ATLANTA — Losing Wandy Rodriguez to an arm injury in the first inning Wednesday put the Pirates' pitching staff into crisis mode.
The Pirates' offense was there from the first pitch.
Atlanta Braves right-hander Julio Teheran flirted with a no-hitter in a 5-0 win over the Pirates.
Brandon Inge ended Teheran's bid for history by lining a pinch-hit single into left field with two outs in the eighth inning. It wound up being the only hit for the Pirates, who had five baserunners but got none of them to second base.
“It's not like a personal (achievement) that you set out to break up a no-hitter, to damage someone else's thing,” Inge said. “He pitched a great game.”
Inge's hit came on a 1-1 fastball.
“I basically got to scout him for eight innings from the bench,” Inge said. “He was elevating the fastball on a lot of guys, and they were swinging underneath it. I just tried to get on top of it, that's all.”
It was just the 15th career start for Teheran, 22, who signed with Atlanta out of his native Colombia in 2007. Teheran (4-2) worked eight innings, struck out a career-best 11, walked two and hit two.
Rodriguez (6-4) left the game after throwing just 14 pitches and allowing a run and two hits. After he hit Freddie Freeman with a pitch, Rodriguez stepped off the mound, called for the trainer and pointed to his left elbow.
“Anything past what he'd done to that point, he wasn't comfortable doing it,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I completely understood.”
The team said Rodriguez left the game because of tightness in his left forearm. Before the game was over, he left Turner Field to catch a flight back to Pittsburgh, where he will be examined by doctors.
Reliever Vin Mazzaro served up back-to-back solo homers to Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird in the sixth inning. Jared Hughes gave up two runs in the seventh.
Rodriguez was scheduled to pitch again Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park. If Rodriguez can't go, the Pirates don't have a lot of options to replace him. Right-hander Charlie Morton would seem to be the best choice. Morton (elbow surgery) threw a bullpen session Wednesday and was scheduled to make a rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Indianapolis. That outing is targeted for 95 pitches, which under normal circumstances likely would make it his final hurdle before rejoining the Pirates.
If Morton would pitch Saturday against the Chicago Cubs instead of for Indy, the rest of the Pirates' rotation simply could be pushed back a day to fit him in.
James McDonald (shoulder) is slated to pitch Thursday for Indy, but he's slated to go only five innings or 80 pitches. McDonald could pitch Tuesday in Pittsburgh on normal rest, but it would mean rushing his rehab.
Two other spot-start options, Jeanmar Gomez (shoulder) and Jeff Karstens (shoulder), already are on the disabled list.
Gerrit Cole, the team's top prospect, pitched Wednesday for Indy, so it would not be a problem for him to work again Tuesday. However, the Super 2 deadline, which grants players a bonus year or salary arbitration eligibility, could be a factor.
The deadline always is a moving target during the season as it's based on service time. Players who finish among the top 22 percent gain Super 2 status. Most industry sources — front-office execs and agents — estimate this year's date to fall anywhere from June 10-15.
It's understandable that management would hesitate to call up Cole and gamble that he'll beat the deadline in order to make what might be only one spot start.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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