Hurdle's lineup changes pay off, as rookie Frazier delivers in leadoff spot
By Sarah K. Spencer
PITTSBURGH -- Just fifteen minutes before Thursday's 5-3 win over the Brewers, Pirates outfielder Matt Joyce found out he'd be starting.
He made the most of taking Starling Marte's spot in the lineup, sending a three-run shot off Matt Garza to right field in the first inning, giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead. Pittsburgh also moved rookie Adam Frazier to the leadoff spot, and both lineup changes resulted in an offensive boost.
"I kind of felt myself rushing a little bit, going to hit, coming on deck," said Joyce, who hit an RBI groundout in the fourth. "Just tried to take some deep breaths and really slow myself down and slow the game down a little bit. Garza's tough, obviously, everybody knows Garza's tough. But fortunately he made a mistake there, and I was able to capitalize."
Marte was scratched shortly before first pitch due to flu-like symptoms. Gregory Polanco moved from right to left field, and Joyce played right and batted fourth. Marte entered the game in the eighth, playing left.
The Pirates also bumped struggling first baseman John Jaso to the six-hole, giving Frazier the leadoff spot for the first time since he was recalled from Triple-A on June 24. Jaso usually leads off against right-handers, but has hit .214 with 25 strikeouts and 11 walks since June 1. Jaso added a double in the first inning.
Frazier hit a single in the fourth, scoring Eric Fryer and extending the Pirates' lead to 5-1. He entered Thursday batting .344/.400/.531 with four doubles, a triple and three stolen bases.
"I tried to have some vision," manager Clint Hurdle said. "[Frazier's] done a nice job of making some things happen. We know Garza's not going to throw over to first, if he can get some action over there, get on base a little bit, maybe we can extend some leads and maybe try and do something."
The Pirates have not announced a starting pitcher for Saturday, but all signs point to top prospect Tyler Glasnow making his home debut.
Chad Kuhl, recently optioned to make room for Jameson Taillon, is scheduled to start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday. That would be Glasnow's turn on regular rest.
Hurdle said Glasnow is "definitely one of the guys we're talking about" for Saturday's start, but the club is "still mulling through a couple options."
The Pirates are currently deploying a four-man rotation -- Cole, Taillon, Jeff Locke and Francisco Liriano -- and it could remain that way for a few weeks, but with a slightly different makeup.
With a cluster of off-days coming up, the Bucs don't technically need a fifth starter until Aug. 6. In the meantime, they could send Locke to the bullpen and use a rotation of Cole, Glasnow, Taillon and Liriano.
"We're having a bunch of different conversations. That's basically all I've got for you," Hurdle said. "We're having a number of different conversations."
The Pirates are also making plans for veteran Ryan Vogelsong, who removed himself from a Triple-A rehab start Wednesday. Piratesprospects.com reported that Vogelsong, who rejoined the team in Pittsburgh on Thursday, left the game due to a stiff neck.
Vogelsong, on the 60-day disabled list following surgery to repair multiple facial fractures, is eligible to return Saturday.
Sarah K. Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.