Wednesday, 15 August 2012 16:45
The early fan reviews on Gaby Sanchez have not been flattering and understandably so. Sanchez was acquired at the trade deadline from the Florida Marlins where he was in the midst of a disappointing season -- after a promising start to his career.
In 2010-11, Sanchez combined for 38 home runs and 163 RBIs. He had the look of a long-time MLB regular. But beginning with the second half of last season -- .225/.320/.359 -- his play declined abruptly and continued this season to the point he has spent time in the minors.
Sometimes a change of scenery can revive a career but that hasn’t worked just yet for Sanchez. He has seven hits, all singles, in 24 at bats. There’s been scant sign of extra-base or home-run power.
Manager Clint Hurdle has used Sanchez in mainly a platoon role, which puts him in the lineup tonight and batting fourth against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. In six career plate appearances against Kershaw, Sanchez has a home run and two walks.
It’s a tough situation for a young hitter, but the Pirates are in desperate need of an offensive boost.
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Catching statistics: Rod Barajas has caught four of 51 runners attempting to steal (8 percent); Michael McKenry has caught four of 26 (15 percent). Of the 21 NL catchers who have caught 250 or more innings, Barajas -- surprise, surprise -- is 21st. McKenry is 19th. Miguel Montero of Arizona and Yadier Molina of St. Louis have thrown out 44 percent and Chico Ruiz of Philadelphia 43 percent.
Time to show up: Wandy Rodriguez, 7-11, 3.91 ERA, has lost five consecutive decisions and six of his past seven. He is 1-2 since joining the Pirates with a 4.74 ERA. He pitched seven innings in a 12-0 win over the Dodgers in April -- three hits, three walks six strikeouts. For his career, he is 5-4 with a 2.21 ERA (69.1ip/17er) in 12 appearances (11 starts) against LA.
Opposing pitcher: Left-hander Clayton Kershaw, 10-6, 2.88 ERA, is following up his Cy Young Award-winning 2011 season with another strong year. He is sixth in the NL in ERA, third in WHIP (1.03) and sixth in BAA (.213). He’s won his last three starts -- 22 1/3 inning, 11 hits, three earned runs, four walks and 21 strikeouts. Left-handers are batting .192 against him, right-handers .217. His BAA for August is .133. He beat the Pirates, 2-1, in April -- seven innings, four hits, one run, no walks, seven strikeouts. Active Pirates are 13-for-60 (.217) vs. Kershaw. Andrew McCutchen is 4-for-11 against Kershaw.
Tonight’s lineup, 7:05 start
1. Marte, LF
2. Walker, 2B
3. McCutchen, CF
4. Sanchez, 1B
5. McKenry, C
6. Jones, RF
7. Harrison, 3b
8. Mercer, SS
9. Rodriguez, P