While the number crunchers try to come up with the definitive list of first-pitch debut homers in Major League history, this will suffice as an indication of its rarity: Starling Marte was the 2,730th player to make his big league debut since 2000, and the 13th to do so with a first-pitch homer. That's 000.45 percent.
Did someone mention "rare?" A.J. Burnett (12-3) is the first Pittsburgh starting
pitcher to win 12 of his first 15 decisions since, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Emil Yde in 1924. Yde was a rookie lefty who finished that season with a 16-3 record.
Following two light days of playing catch, reliever Juan Cruz (elbow inflammation) played long-toss on Friday and a determination will be made Saturday when he can begin throwing off a mound.
Casey McGehee had started 46 straight games, going 2-for-24 in the last seven of them to prompt manager Clint Hurdle to sit him Friday, for the first time since June 2. "Just wanted him to back away from the flame. He's been at a real good place for six weeks, and I wanted to cut this off before it becomes more," Hurdle said.
It's gotta be the shoes? Starling Marte got rung up by Major League Baseball's fashion police for wearing all-gray shoes in his scintillating Thursday night debut, when he went 2-for-4, including the first-pitch game-opening home run. Switching to acceptable Pirates spikes -- they must be at least 51 percent black, reflecting an official team color -- Marte went hitless in four at-bats Friday in his second big league game, although he did set up the Bucs' 6-5 win with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the ninth.