08/09/12 4:46 PM ET
McKenry gets first chance to catch Wandy
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Despite success in day games, Alvarez out
PITTSBURGH -- The difference between the good Pedro Alvarez and the bad one in 2012 has been like night and day. Alvarez has a .318 average in day games, when in fewer than half as many opportunities he has more homers (14) and RBIs (32) than at night (seven and 26).Still, the third baseman was out of the starting lineup for a second straight afternoon affair as the Bucs concluded their four-game series with the D-backs on Thursday. The presence of left-hander Joe Saunders on the mound had less to do with manager Clint Hurdle's decision than Alvarez's recent play. Alvarez has one hit -- and six strikeouts -- in his last 14 at-bats. "I'm not going to hang my hat on day games guaranteeing he'll get hits all the time. It hasn't played out that way lately," said Hurdle. "Right now, I'm just looking at the quality of his at-bats." In the course of that latest batting lull, Alvarez has also committed three errors. Josh Harrison, who again started at third on Thursday, has flashed good range and leather at the position.
"What if ... the Pirates made the playoffs? That would really stink."
- Cleveland comedian Mike Polk Jr., in a video spoof of the Indians' "What If ...?" marketing campaign, taking time to notice what his city's rivals are up to.
Reliever Juan Cruz (shoulder inflammation) is set to make another rehab start for Double-A Altoona on Thursday night, after an accelerated simulated-game bullpen session on Wednesday in which he went through his entire repertoire. Kevin Correia's spot start Wednesday pushed each of the constants in the five-man rotation back one day, enabling them to take their next turns on five days' rest, starting with Wandy Rodriguez on Thursday. So how have those pitchers fared with an additional day of rest this season? A.J. Burnett, James McDonald, Erik Bedard, Jeff Karstens and Rodriguez were a collective 19-14 with a 3.25 ERA entering Thursday's game. In closing out Wednesday night's 7-6 win, Joel Hanrahan had only the third "pluperfect" save of his career, three-up and three-down, all on strikeouts. Hanrahan had one last season (May 27 at the Cubs) and one earlier this year (June 5 at Cincinnati). Andrew McCutchen has gone hitless in consecutive games only once all season (June 8-9), and his longest hitless streak has lasted nine at-bats (June 7-10).
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.