7/21/2014 7:15 P.M. ET
Slumping Polanco sits with Bucs facing lefty
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco's slump finally reached the Pirates' bench Monday night.
With the Bucs going up against Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, Polanco was absent from the lineup after he had gone 0-for-10 in the previous two games, started by Colorado southpaws Brett Anderson and Tyler Matzek.
With Pedro Alvarez also rested and Josh Harrison moving in at third base, Michael Martinez got the call in right field. This was only the third start missed by Polanco in the 34 games since his June 10 promotion from Triple-A Indianapolis.
"He's been challenged with some left-handed [breaking pitches], some right-handed spins, so you find times [to sit him] down. He just faced a couple of left-handers," said manager Clint Hurdle, anticipating Polanco back in there for the final two games of this series, with righties Josh Beckett and Dan Haren lined up for Los Angeles.
The quiet weekend dropped Polanco's average vs. lefties to .143 (6-for-42). Trouble handling same-side pitchers hasn't been part of his profile; in Indianapolis, he hit .338 vs. southpaws, compared to .350 off right-handers. However, the Pirates have faced more lefties recently, and the production against them is merely part of Polanco's overall struggles.
Since the end of his celebrated career-opening 11-game hitting streak, the young outfielder is 16-for-90 (.178), dropping his overall average from .365 to .246. The last two weeks, he has hit .125 (6-for-48) with 15 strikeouts, nearly one-half of his total of 32 whiffs.
"I do have a tendency to pay more attention to people's body language when things are going rough than when they're going good," Hurdle said. "He continues to play, he continues to fight, he continues to battle. This wasn't unexpected from us by any means. We just got to keep working with him and keep reminding him that this is the Major Leagues. You're not going up from here."
First number, last word
.516: The Pirates' pre-All-Star break winning percentage this season -- the lowest in Clint Hurdle's four seasons as their manager.
"Remember back in Little League that kid who has three hits and is ... running around crazy? Two games later, it's that same kid who can barely get his back end out to right field." -- Hurdle, on the humbling game of baseball, in which the best and worst days are never too far apart.
• Gerrit Cole (sore right lat) is set to pitch another simulated game -- four innings, upwards of 60 pitches -- on Wednesday. Thereafter, without any setbacks, he may be ready to take a rehab assignment.
• The Bucs have won 14 consecutive games in which they have scored in the first inning, matching their best such streak since April 27-June 19, 1975 -- but only halfway to their all-time mark of 28, set in 1909.
• Brandon Cumpton made only one start for Indianapolis last week, but blanking Columbus for eight innings on two hits was enough for him to earn International League Pitcher of the Week honors. It is the Indians' fifth weekly award of the season.
• When Tony Watson, Jared Hughes and Jeanmar Gomez took turns picking up decisions in the three comeback wins over the Rockies, they formed the first trio of Pirates relievers to earn wins in a sweep since July 16-17, 1978, when the "vultures" were Ed Whitson, Grant Jackson and Kent Tekulve.
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.