Sadler goes above and beyond in fill-in start

Pirates prospect earned his first big league win substituting for Liriano

Sadler goes above and beyond in fill-in start

MILWAUKEE -- With all the Spring Training attention on the Pirates' fifth starter, leave it up to the sixth starter to turn in one of the strongest performances of this young season.

That would be Casey Sadler, who had to pinch-start for Francisco Liriano on Sunday and turned his first big league start into an eye-opener.

"We got a real good effort off the mound," manager Clint Hurdle noted, by way of rationalizing the factors that finally helped unleash his offense for a 10-2 victory over the Brewers. "He maintained his composure, his rhythm and pace. The poise was really strong."

Sadler had to call on his composure after the Brewers' lone moves on him in the third. Before and after that three-hit, two-run inning, Sadler blanked them on one hit in four other frames.

Gomez's two-run blast

"I think that was the turning point of the game, just giving up the one home run (to Carlos Gomez), then throwing up a couple zeros after that," Sadler said. "It was big for me. And it gave the guys the ability to say, 'We just need to push across a couple of runs, and we're good.'"

Sadler's pick off to second

As they pushed across quite a few more than a couple, Sadler had a chance to anticipate and savor his first Major League win -- as did family and friends.

"I'm sure i've got thousands of text messages," said the Oklahoman. "Overall, a pretty good day."

The 25th-round Draft selection (before he showed up, the lowest-drafted pitchers on the Pirates staff were Mark Melancon and Tony Watson, both ninth rounders) had gotten his first big league taste last season as a recurring bullpen fill-in. He made his six appearances in four different months, and the exposure did what it was intended to: It took care of a rookie's "awe factor."

"That helped a lot," Sadler said. "Coming back in, I just feel more comfortable. It's more normal now. These guys make you feel at home. I could just look forward to coming out and having a good time."

And to going back to Indianapolis. Baby Papa Liriano's return from the Dominican bedside of his wife will usher Sadler back to Triple-A. But, oh, with what memories.

"My goal," he said, "is to pitch well enough down there and be ready when that phone call comes and they need me here."

Touching all the bases

• First: Corey Hart has made two pinch-hit appearances, has seen two pitches, collected two singles and driven in two runs. The second of all those came Sunday in what was still a tight game, giving the Bucs a 5-2 lead.

• Second: With Josh Harrison getting the day off, Gregory Polanco moved into the leadoff spot -- which was where he batted predominantly upon his callup last June.

• Third: Andrew McCutchen's 22 homers against the Brewers are his most against any opponent.

• Home: Sunday's three-hit game was a career first for Tony Sanchez, who clearly has carried over his hot spring into the regular season.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.