Pregame: McCutchen to start, Starling Marte out, 'doubtful' tonight

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

-P- Starling Marte is not in tonight's lineup. Jose Tabata will play left field and bat fifth.

Clint Hurdle said that that Marte is "doubtful" coming off the bench tonight, and he has "no idea" if he'll be available the next few games.

-P- Andrew McCuctchen said that he is "ready to go" and wanted to play last night.

"We think we can get him out there, we believe we can get him out there," Hurdle said.

Today McCutchen passed a battery of physical tests that he was unable to pass yesterday, Hurdle said.

-P- The Pirates officially announced that the promotion of Jaff Decker and optioned Brent Morel to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Decker was pulled from last night's game in Indianapolis in the 12th inning. Indianapolis' game went four hours, which suggests that the decision to promote him came soon after the Pirates completed their game.

Hurdle said that the Decker profiles as someone that you like coming off the bench.

"The on-base percentage, the eye, there's a calm approach at the bat, a solid, plus defender, with a very accurate, probably plus arm, very accurate," Hurdle said of Decker. "He's a ballplayer, a backyard ballplayer."

Decker said that he was "a little bit surprised" when he heard that an outfielder was not promoted Friday night. He added that he is good friends with Morel, and that the two of them joked about the situation.

-P- There was some talk on the site about Hurdle's decision to bring in Jared Hughes in an important situation in the fifth inning last night.

It was "absolutely" about inducing a ground ball, a skill that Hughes' is proficient at, Hurdle said today.

"Pound it outside, sink it out, maybe we get him to roll one over to the right-side, those were the directions, and he was able to follow them," Hurdle said.

Numbers changing quickly

In baseball, rebounding from bad start can be a lot like turning around an oil tanker. Team's don't always just reverse direction, and make up lost ground, quickly. Often it is slow, evolving process.

After posting a 10-16 record in April, then losing both ends of a doubleheader in Baltimore, the Pirates returned home 10-18. But, they've had something of sharp turnaround the past eight games, winning six games so far in the homestand. The wins have been uncomfortably close and, if we're honest, they probably should have lost a few of them. But, the Pirates did have some good fortune coming their way, and they've cashed in the opportunities.

After April's struggles, early May has seen Pirates' offense suddenly heat up. After batting .221/.296/.351 last month, the reversal of their May numbers is more akin to a jet ski than oil tanker, .303/.377/.433.

The change in the offense comes largely from an almost complete flipping of fortune in the batted balls in play. In April they were 29th in the league, with a BABIP of .259. So far in May, they rank first in the league, .371.

Seasons change

Last season the Cardinals' incredible success hitting with runners in scoring position was the talk of baseball. Their .330 batting average was the highest recorded in baseball history. On the other hand, the Pirates were buried at the bottom of the league, batting .230.

This season, the Cardinals are struggling early with RISP, hitting .227. The Pirates are ninth in the league, with a .254 batting average.

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