Starling Marte’s 10-game hit streak came to an emphatic end last night, with the 22-year old Pirates outfielder striking out five times in Pittsburgh’s 6-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park.
Marte is not in the lineup today against the Braves with manager Clint Hurdle electing to go with Jose Tabata in left field and at the top of the lineup.
Hurdle said he spoke with Marte about the tough night at the plate and welcomed him to a dubious but exclusive club.
“He’s in a select company now,” Hurdle said. “How many of the people here have struck out in the big leagues? Raise your hand. That’s what I thought. I’m in there with him. If you’re going to strike out five times, the big league is a pretty good place to do it. That’s the perspective I shared with him today. Rough night last night. This is the Major League so we’ll give him a blow and we’ll get him back in there tomorrow.”
Marte has been one of the Pirates leaders on offense through the first few weeks of the season. He has collected 21 hits (including six for extra bases) in 63 at-bats, scored 11 runs, knocked in eight runs, stolen two bases and has a slash line of .333/.364/.492. He does have almost as many strikeouts (19) as hits, but that number inflated with last night’s five punchouts.
Clint Barmes also has the night off. John McDonald will start at shortstop in his place and hit eighth.
Wandy Rodriguez returns to the mound for the Pirates after missing a start last weekend with a left hamstring injury. Rodriguez last pitched on April 8 at Arizona with Phil Irwin taking his spot in the rotation last Sunday in what turned out to be a memorable 10-7 Pirates win against the Reds.
The conditions at PNC Park right now could be described as “damp” with rain throughout the day in the Pittsburgh area moving the Pirates’ pregame routines indoors. Hurdle said the weather wouldn’t change the way Rodriguez approaches tonight’s start opposite the Braves’ Tim Hudson.
“The mound should be dry but if there is rain throughout the game we’ll tack it down and go,” Hurdle said. “He’s ready, so we’ll take him at his word and if he’s not it’s not like we’ll beat him up or thrash him or anything. I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch.”
Hurdle added that Jared Hughes would not be available out of the bullpen tonight and that Justin Wilson might also have the night off but was less firm about Wilson not pitching than he was regarding Hughes.
Atlanta (13-2, 1st National League East)
1. B. Upton cf
2. Heyward rf
3. J. Upston lf
4. Gattis 1b
5. C. Johnson 3b
6. Uggla 2b
7. Simmons ss
8. Laird c
9. Hudson p
Pittsburgh (7-8, 3rd National League Central)
1. Tabata lf
2. Snider rf
3. McCutchen cf
4. Jones 1b
5. Walker 2b
6. Alvarez 3b
7. Martin c
8. Jo. McDonald ss
9. Rodriguez p