MLB Team Report - Pittsburgh Pirates - INSIDE PITCH
DETROIT -- Josh Harrison is validating his surprise selection to the National League All-Star team with an even stronger second half.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' 27-year-old utility man entered Wednesday's action with the third-most hits by a National League player since the All-Star break. He had 35, trailing only Washington Nationals outfielder Denard Span (42) and the New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy (36). He led the majors with 21 hits in August, including nine for extra bases.
Harrison had a double in five at-bats Wednesday and scored a run in the Pirates' 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
At the break, Harrison was hitting .297 with five home runs 28 RBIs and nine stolen bases. He now has a .316 average -- third in the league -- with 10 homers, 38 RBIs and 17 steals.
"There were some people who were sideways when he made the All-Star Game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "If you're not with him every day, I guess you can understand it. If you see him every day, you understand a lot better. The way he's responded after the All-Star Game has obviously added a little bit more credibility to everything he did before the All-Star Game and his selection to the team."
Harrison has mainly played at third base ahead of error-prone Pedro Alvarez this month. Overall, he has made 20 starts there, 13 at second base, 22 in left field and 23 in right field. He has moved around in the batting order but has settled in at the leadoff spot. His .337 average as a leadoff man tops the majors.
It has been a meteoric rise for a player who bounced between the majors and Triple-A the last three seasons and was left off last year's postseason roster.
"He's sparked us in a number of different ways," Hurdle said. "He's sparked rally after rally with a big hit and just by the fact he's been able to step in there and take on all pitchers. He's handled all the challenges out of the bullpen, the ones and twos (starters) -- he fights and scratches and claws, and he's put together a very defining season."
MLB Team Report - Pittsburgh Pirates - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost one
NEXT: Pirates (LHP Francisco Liriano, 3-8, 3.82 ERA) at Tigers (RHP Max Scherzer, 13-4, 3.13 ERA)
--LHP Francisco Liriano will try to extend his streak of four consecutive quality starts when he faces Detroit on Thursday afternoon. Liriano has allowed just six earned runs in his last four outings. He has not fared well against Detroit in his career, posting a 5-8 record with a 5.99 ERA in 24 appearances. Tigers DH Victor Martinez is a particularly tough out for Liriano, as he is hitting .481 in 27 official at-bats against the lefty.
--C Russell Martin collected his 1,000th hit Wednesday with an RBI double in the third inning. Martin also extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He is batting .341 during that span. Manager Clint Hundle is showing confidence in Martin by batting him third, the spot where injured All-Star CF Andrew McCutchen usually bats.
--SS Clint Barmes will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona on Thursday. Barmes, sidelined since late June with a left groin strain, will not play a full game or on back-to-back days in the early portion of the assignment. He eventually will be elevated to Triple-A Indianapolis. "It's similar to spring training since it's been six weeks since he's played," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've written in pencil a schedule that will take us approximately to the end of the month."
--LF Travis Snider hit his third home run during Pittsburgh's four-game series with Detroit when he blasted a two-run shot Wednesday. Snider now has 10 home runs, giving the club a boost during CF Andrew McCutchen's absence. Snider has hit safely in six of his past seven games and is hitting .302 in 52 games since June 1.
--RHP Vance Worley struggled with his breaking pitches, particularly his slider, and took his second loss of the season Wednesday. Worley allowed nine hits and five runs, including home runs to Detroit C Alex Avila and 3B Nick Castellanos. Worley had a 3-0 record and 0.96 ERA since the All-Star break prior to the shaky performance.
--C Roman Cabrera was claimed off waivers by the Pirates from the Tigers and was optioned to Double-A Altoona. Cabrera, 24, was hitting .277/.329/.358 with five homers and 47 RBIs in 107 games for Double-A Erie this season. He began his pro career in the Pittsburgh organization in 2008.
--RHP Wirfin Obispo was designated for assignment by the Pirates to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for C Roman Cabrera. Obispo was claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh from Atlanta in June. He was a combined 2-3 with three saves and a 3.80 ERA in 42 appearances for the Braves' and Pirates' Triple-A affiliates this year.
--RHP Ernesto Frieri, designated for assignment by the Pirates on Friday, was outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis. Frieri was 1-1 with a 10.13 ERA in 14 relief appearances for the Pirates after they acquired him June 27 from the Los Angeles Angels in a trade for RHP Jason Grilli.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It wasn't a sharp night for (RHP Vance Worley) overall, but still, the three runs scored in the fifth inning, if we handled the ball a little better, we could have gotten out of there with less. Some breaking balls were up tonight. This is a very good hitting ballclub we're facing, and you've got to make pitches." -- Manager Clint Hurdle, after the Pirates' 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.
MLB Team Report - Pittsburgh Pirates - ROSTER REPORT
--2B Neil Walker (lower back tightness) missed his second consecutive game Aug. 3. He returned Aug. 5 but then was reinjured in the seventh inning while running the bases and left the game. He did not play Aug. 6-8 but pinch hit Aug. 9. He was slated to start Aug. 10 but was scratched pregame and also sat out Aug. 11-13.
--CF Andrew McCutchen (fracture and torn cartilage in lower left rib cage) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 4. There is no timetable for his return.
--RHP Gerrit Cole (tight right lat) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 5. He threw on flat ground July 13 and July 15. He threw off a mound July 16 and July 20. He threw a simulated game July 23. Cole made a rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis on July 28. He was scratched from a start for Indianapolis on Aug. 2 because the Pirates felt he would be better served having an extra side session. He started for Indianapolis on Aug. 5 and Aug. 10 and will make what is expected be his last rehab start Aug. 16.
--INF Clint Barmes (strained left groin) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 30. He began jogging July 23. He is due to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona on Aug. 14. He eventually will move to Triple-A Indianapolis with an eye toward rejoining the Pirates in early September.
RHP Francisco Liriano
RHP Charlie Morton
LHP Jeff Locke
RHP Edinson Volquez
RHP Vance Worley
RHP Mark Melancon (closer)
LHP Tony Watson
LHP Justin Wilson
RHP Jeanmar Gomez
RHP Jared Hughes
RHP Stolmy Pimentel
RHP Brandon Cumpton
1B Ike Davis
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
3B Josh Harrison
INF Pedro Alvarez
INF Laynce Nix
INF Gaby Sanchez
INF Michael Martinez
LF Travis Snider
CF Starling Marte
RF Gregory Polanco