It’s official: playoff baseball is coming back to Pittsburgh.
On the strength of six home runs, the Pirates defeated the Reds 8-3 this afternoon at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. With the victory, the Pirates clinched home field for the Wild Card game on Tuesday against the Reds. It will be the first home playoff game for the Pirates since Game 5 of the 1992 NLCS and the first playoff game in the history of PNC Park. Now that’s going to be fun.
As for today’s power explosion, Neil Walker hit two home runs while Andrew McCutchen, Marlon Byrd, Pedro Alvarez, and Andrew Lambo also went deep. Bronson Arroyo gave up five of them, setting a new career-high.
The Pirates have already chosen Francisco Liriano to start Tuesday’s Wild Card play-in game, but the Reds have yet to make an official announcement on a starter. Mat Latos is the likely favorite for the assignment.
The Pirates will be without a key piece for at least another 10 days after placing Starling Marte on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a hand contusion.
Andrew Lambo was recalled to replace him on the roster.
Marte was injured last Sunday when he was hit on the left hand by a pitch. He’d been available to pinch-run since, but the Pirates declined to use him in case the DL stint became necessary. Since he hadn’t made an appearance since the injury, he’ll be eligible to rejoin the team on Sept. 3.
The 24-year-old Marte has been the Pirates’ everyday left fielder and leadoff hitter this season. He’s hitting .282/.343/.443, and he’s third in the NL with 35 steals and tied for seventh with 79 runs scored.
Lambo is seeing his second stint in the majors after going 1-for-9 in four games earlier this month. He’s hit 32 homers in the minors this year, 18 of them coming in Triple-A. He’ll share time with Felix Pie in left until Marte returns.
Jeff Locke lasted just two innings in Saturday’s 15-5 loss to the Diamondbacks, so the Pirates had to do some roster shuffling on Sunday to bolster their tired bullpen. Andrew Lambo was one of the casualties.
Lambo, a talented 25-year-old outfielder and still the home run leader this year in the minor leagues, was officially optioned back to Triple-A Indianapolis to oepn up a 25-man roster spot for the arrival of left-handed reliever Kris Johnson. Mike McKenry was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list in a corresponding procedural move.
Lambo tallied just one hit — an RBI double — in his four-game stay with the NL Central-leading Pirates.
He has a .926 OPS, 31 homers and 97 RBI in 117 games this year between Double-A and Triple-A.