C Tony Sanchez has become LHP Francisco Liriano's personal catcher. He caught Liriano for the fifth consecutive time in Saturday's 6-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Until Saturday, Sanchez's main contribution was on the defensive end. But he had two hits, including his first career home run, on Saturday, raising his average from .189 to .220. His two-RBI night doubled his previous big-league total.
OF Starling Marte has spent the better part of the week sitting on the bench, waiting for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle to call his number. Marte, who bruised his right hand last Sunday sliding into third base, knew he couldn't grip a bat strongly enough to pinch hit. But surely he could pinch run or serve as a defensive replacement. However, Hurdle has been hesitant to take any chances with his star leadoff man, and Saturday the Pirates elected to replace Marte with a fully healthy body, placing him on the disabled list and recalling OF Andrew Lambo from Triple-A Indianapolis. The move was made retroactive to Aug. 19. The injury is not considered serious and Marte almost assuredly will be ready to return to action once his 15-day DL stint end Sept. 3.
RHP A.J. Burnett helped the Pirates get off to a fast start on their weeklong Western swing, beating the San Diego Padres 8-1 Tuesday. Now he'd like to send the team home on a similarly positive note. When the veteran faces the San Francisco Giants in the trip finale Sunday, he'll be going up against a team he has dominated in his career, going 6-2 with a 1.95 ERA in eight starts. Pitching on the road should be no problem for Burnett. This will be his fourth consecutive start away from PNC Park.
LHP Francisco Liriano waited 13 years to pitch in San Francisco, which he presumed would be his home site after having signed with the Giants as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. Suffice it to say, his performance was not worth the wait. That said, it wasn't as bad as the numbers might indicate, either. Liriano struggled through 102 pitches over four innings, giving up four runs and nine hits in the Pirates' 6-3 loss Saturday night. All four runs came in the first inning, three of which having been the product of a broken-bat single, a dribbler up the third-base line and a slow roller to the second baseman.
OF Andrew Lambo has been a powerful force in the minor leagues but a complete dud in the majors. The Pirates are hoping the latter is about to change. Lambo was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday to replace injured OF Starling Marte on the active roster. Lambo went 1-for-9 the last time the Pirates gave him a shot. Sandwiching that, he's hit the fourth-most home runs among minor-leaguers this season (32) and driven in 99 runs. He returned to his prior major-league form Saturday, going 0-for-3 in the Pirates' 6-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants.