Bob Smizik: Davis for Sanchez makes no sense

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Observations on the Pirates and on their 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday night at PNC Park:

• Not quite sure what Clint Hurdle was thinking in the eighth inning when he sent Ike Davis up to bat for Gaby Sanchez. The Pirates were down by three runs, there were two out and Andrew McCutchen was on first base. Hurdle had to know that once Sanchez was removed from the game, the Dodgers would replace right-hander Brian Wilson with left-hander J.P. Howell. Sanchez was batting .204 (19-for-93) against right-handers. Davis was batting .091 (2-for-22) against left-handers. For their careers, Davis was batting .199 vs. lefties and Sanchez .239 vs. righties. It made no sense.

• Better still, if Hurdle was going to bat for Sanchez, why not Pedro Alvarez? Alvarez hasn’t had much success against left-handers (.199 this year) but he’s had a lot more than Davis and had a far better chance of hitting a home run.

• Prior to last night, Edinson Volquez had been performing well above expectations for the Pirates, after coming off a past history of significant failure. So when Volquez has a stinker, as he did last night, the tendency is to think, ''Uh, oh! Here it comes.’’ That’s probably a bit unfair, but Volquez’s history suggests he cannot sustain the success he has had with the Pirates this season. What’s frightening about that is the same thing can be said about two others members of the rotation, Jeff Locke and Vance Worley.

• In defense of Volquez, in his four previous starts, 30 innings, he was 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA. He had had won five of his six previous starts. He’s entitled to a bad one.

• Michael Martinez got the surprise start in right field, as Hurdle thought it best to give Alvarez and Gregory Polanco a day off from the steady diet of left-handed starters they’ve been facing. Martinez had 20 previous MLB starts in the outfield, including 15 in center. He did not look the least bit uncomfortable, had a hit and showed very good speed.

• There is a football axiom that goes something like this: A team with two quarterbacks (sharing the position) has no quarterback. That adage can be applied to the Pirates. A team with two first basemen has no first baseman.

• The Dodgers batting third through sixth last night -- Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford -- make a combined $77.75 million in 2014.

• Since the All-Star break, the Pirates‘‍ bullpen has pitched 14 1/3 innings and allowed no earned runs, 10 hits, three walks and 13 strikeouts. That’s a 0.00 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP.

• On his Sunday radio show, General Manager Neal Huntington made it quite clear the Pirates believe injured players would best be served by taking rehab assignments, but that the players have the right to refuse them. Gerrit Cole refused a rehab assignment the last time he was on the DL and Neil Walker and Francisco Liriano took fewer rehab assignments than the team wanted. Huntington indicated that Cole, back on the DL, would take at least one rehab start before returning this time.

• Worley starts for the Pirates tonight against right-hander Josh Beckett. In his past three appearances, one in relief, Worley has an ERA of 5.79. Beckett is coming off the disabled list. He has not taken a rehab assignment.


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