5/13/2013 7:50 P.M. ET
Bucs now have their 'Immaculate Deflection'
By Tom Singer and Steven Petrella / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- It may quickly fade from memory if this season derails into another link in the Pirates' losing chain.
However, if 2013 has a brighter destination, the Bucs will have their own divine play to add to Pittsburgh's rich sports history.
We are, of course, talking about The Immaculate Deflection -- Sunday's eighth-inning smash by the Mets' Lucas Duda that caromed off the first-base bag, yet turned into an inning-ending and game-saving out in the Pirates' 3-2 victory.
When the ball descended out of the Citi Field air, it did so into the glove of alert second baseman Brandon Inge, whose bullet throw into the gut of pitcher Mark Melancon, alertly covering the base, ended the inning and stranded runners on second and third.
That's the part of the Immaculate Deflection that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle wants people to remember. It had nothing to do with luck, fates or destiny -- and everything to do with his players following through on the play.
"We finished the play," Hurdle said. "I was asked a lot of questions about that, but that's what nobody seemed to hear. I've never seen a ball hit a base and be an out. The pitcher didn't quit on the play. The second baseman didn't quit on he play. That speaks to something about our club, because I've been on clubs that when that ball's in the air, everybody stops and throws their hands up in the air.
"Where it goes, we'll see. I'm not big on omens. But we weren't lucky -- we finished the play."
Morton building toward Altoona rehab start
PITTSBURGH -- Charlie Morton was scheduled to throw 35 pitches off a mound on Monday afternoon, using all four of his pitches. If all goes well, the 29-year-old will likely make a rehab start for Double-A Altoona on Thursday, according to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Morton, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June and is dealing with a shoulder issue as well, will likely throw 65 pitches in four innings for the Curve.
James McDonald, on the other hand, has no timetable for a return. Hurdle said the right-hander will not begin a throwing program until the soreness or tenderness in his shoulder is gone. The Pirates placed McDonald on the 15-day disabled list on May 7 -- retroactive to May 1 -- with discomfort in his right shoulder. The 28-year-old is 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA.
"McDonald is just still on hold," Hurdle said.
Right-hander Jeff Karstens was also set to make a rehab start for Class A Bradenton on Monday. Hurdle said Karstens will likely throw 50 pitches over three innings. Karstens began the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and threw 29 pitches in a two-inning rehab start in extended spring training on May 8.
First number, last word
56: Homers by Pedro Alvarez as the Pirates' third baseman, one shy of tying Hall of Famer Pie Traynor for fifth place on the club's all-time list at the position.
"I would be lying if I said it didn't cross my mind the first time I slid on a double-play ball, but the chances of it happening again are extremely slim." -- Neil Walker, on flashback moments during his Minor League rehab from the right-hand laceration sustained while trying to break up a double play on April 26 in St. Louis.
• Southpaw Andrew Oliver is the International League Pitcher of the Week after winning both of his starts with Indianapolis, posting an ERA of 0.82 and striking out 11 in 11 innings.
• Brewers shortstop Jean Segura may be the National League Player of the Week, but he only shared the league lead in multihit games with the Bucs' Starling Marte. Both had 16 entering Monday night's game -- and Marte had the additional prop of being the overall NL leader with 48 hits.
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. Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.