The Pirates' acquisition for struggling first baseman Ike Davis didn't send shockwaves across baseball, but it has made manager Clint Hurdle's little corner of the world -- namely his bench -- better.
Last week, the Mets traded Davis to Pittsburgh for a Minor League pitcher. In four starts since, he is 5-for-15 with a grand slam on Monday. The Pirates weren't able to fill their first-base needs in the offseason.
"One of the things Neal [Huntington, the Pirates general manager] does very well, he hunts for a fair deal -- in his mind," Hurdle said. "He stays after it. In our industry, it takes courage to have patience because of the external noise, opinions. Everybody can do his job better than him. To stay with it and get it done at this point of the season, it is real good for us."
One of the benefits is having Gaby Sanchez come off the bench. In a pinch, he is 2-for-6 with an RBI, part of the Pirates' league-leading pinch-hitting corps. They are 12-for-37 with two homers and 10 RBIs.
"We hit a switch about 10 days or so ago," Hurdle said. "We actually talked about how could we find a way to be a little better. We put together a commitment package, a PH package. 'Here's what we want out of you.' We were rolling with some momentum earlier, but we have been really, really sharp, spot on lately. Good, productive at-bats."
When the Reds and Pirates meet again on Wednesday night, Davis and his teammates will encounter one of baseball's hottest starters in Alfredo Simon. A fill-in from the bullpen while Mat Latos has been on the disabled list, Simon brings a sterling 0.86 ERA after three excellent starts that is third best in the National League.
Opponents are batting only .173 vs. Simon, which is fifth best in the NL. Like Davis, Simon's acquisition was a smaller move for the Reds. He was claimed off of waivers from the Orioles on the eve of Opening Day 2012.
"I know that he was a waiver-claim guy for us, and I think he pitched in 36 games in 2012 for us out of the bullpen and about 60 last year, but he has been remarkable," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's wanted more opportunity, we've given that to him. I think it was a good idea that we brought him into camp in case we had an injury or didn't have the depth, and our good fortune is that he came in ready to go and had a great spring and is off to a good start."
Pirates: Martin's appeal could be short-lived
Catcher Russell Martin immediately appealed the one-game suspension handed him by MLB for his role in Sunday's on-field brawl with the Brewers. As a result, he was in the lineup Tuesday night and is again expected to play Wednesday night.
However, it would not be unexpected for Martin to drop his appeal Thursday morning, and thus have to serve the suspension in that afternoon's finale of this four-game series. Martin typically does not play in afternoon games following night games anyway.
Not having Martin available on the bench would be a loss for Pittsburgh. Last season, he was 4-for-6 with four RBIs as a pinch-hitter, with a couple of walk-off hits.
Reds: Frazier has Morton's number?
Reds third baseman Todd Frazier is 6-for-11 in his last three games and reached safely eight times. He also remains the team leader with four home runs.
A hot-hitting Frazier could be particularly problematic for Pirates starter Charlie Morton on Wednesday. Although a small sample size, Frazier is 5-for-9 (.556) with two doubles and one home run against Morton lifetime.
• With his 53rd home run at PNC Park on Tuesday night, Andrew McCutchen moved closer to the all-time leader Jason Bay (61). McCutchen's homer on Monday night broke a tie with Garrett Jones.
• Seven of the Pirates' first nine wins were by one run.
• Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, who went 3-for-4 Monday and did not start on Tuesday, is batting .541 (20-for-37) over 10 games this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the highest batting average by a Reds player with at least 20 at-bats over his first 10 games of a season since 1926, when Bubbles Hargrave went 12-for-22 through 10 games (.545).
• The Reds lead the Major Leagues with seven losses by one run this season.