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Pre-game: Santana (12-6) vs. Worley (5-2)

Bill Brink 11 months ago

Game: Pirates (64-60) at Pirates (64-60)

Time: 7:05 p.m. Site: PNC Park

TV, radio: Root Sports, KDKA-FM 93.7

Weather: 82 and partly cloudy

Audio of Clint Hurdle’s meeting with the media.

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Pedro Alvarez is making his first career start at first base tonight against Braves righty Ervin Santana instead of Ike Davis. This was expected -- he would have done so already if not for injuries -- but the ramifications here are interesting. The reason to play Alvarez at first, Hurdle has said, is to get his bat in the lineup. Numbers since the All-Star break:

Alvarez: .212/.241/.269, 0 home runs, 3 doubles, 2 BB, 20 K in 54 PAs

Davis: .255/.358/.491, 3 home runs, 4 doubles, 10 BB, 13 K in 67 PAs

Now, since the start of August: 

Alvarez: .207/.207/.276, 0 BB, 14 K in 29 PAs

Davis: .200/.341/.371, 8 BB, 11 K in 44 PAs

The move removes a proven, if unspectacular, defensive first baseman who is getting on base and taking his walks from the lineup and inserts someone who has never played the position before who has not been hitting well for a month.

Staring Alvarez at first also forces Brent Morel to play at third base. He only has 18 plate appearances in the majors this season and has three hits. 

Other news...

***Jordy Mercer (tight right forearm) took ground balls at short but did not throw. He still has some work to do before he returns, but said he felt better.

***Charlie Morton was not around. Hurdle said he thought Morton had an appointment for his hip.

***Clint Barmes (groin strain) will play seven innings in Class AAA Indianapolis tonight. 

***No Brandon Cumpton tonight. 

Lineups

Braves

1. Jason Heyward (L) RF
2. Andrelton Simmons SS
3. Freddie Freeman (L) 1B
4. Justin Upton RF
5. Chris Johnson 3B
6. Tommy La Stella (L) 2B
7. Gerald Laird C
8. Emilio Bonifacio (S) CF
9. Ervin Santana RHP

Pirates

1. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
2. Josh Harrison SS
3. Neil Walker (S) 2B
4. Russell Martin C
5. Pedro Alvarez (L) 1B
6. Starling Marte CF
7. Travis Snider (L) LF
8. Brent Morel 3B
9. Vance Worley RHP