PITTSBURGH -- With two outs in the first inning of Wednesday afternoon's game with the Pirates, Starling Marte swung and missed at a two-strike curveball that bounced several feet in front of the plate. Standing on the field between innings, Marte shrugged his shoulders, seemingly frustrated with himself.A few hours
PITTSBURGH -- With two outs in the first inning of Wednesday afternoon's game with the Pirates, Starling Marte swung and missed at a two-strike curveball that bounced several feet in front of the plate. Standing on the field between innings, Marte shrugged his shoulders, seemingly frustrated with himself.
A few hours later, Marte showed a different side of his game: his newfound patience. With the bases loaded in the fourth inning of Wednesday's doubleheader nightcap, Marte fell behind Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd, but worked his way back into the count and drew a bases-loaded walk.
It was Marte's 13th walk of the season, and he worked his 14th during the Pirates' 1-0 win over the Tigers on Thursday. Last year, he drew 20 in 77 games. He's never totaled more than 33 in a season. Marte entered Thursday with a career-high 12.3 percent walk rate while seeing 4.10 pitches per plate appearance, the highest total of his career.
"He continues to show growth in the box, maturity in the box," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Thirteenth walk of the month? Twenty last year? Pretty much sums it all up."
According to Fangraphs, opponents are throwing Marte fewer pitches in the strike zone this season, but he's cut down slightly on his overall swing-and-miss rate while swinging at significantly fewer pitches outside of the strike zone.
"There's been some counts now that he's showing a different side to him that we haven't seen a whole lot of before," Hurdle said. "We're starting to see more of [it] now."
Around the horn
• Sean Rodriguez, who turned 33 on Thursday, started at shortstop in the Bucs' series finale against the Tigers. Jordy Mercer played all 18 innings of Wednesday's doubleheader at shortstop.
• The Pirates will wear Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys as they travel to Washington to play the Nationals next week. The defending champion Penguins began a playoff series against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
• Ed Sheeran's concert date at PNC Park was moved up a day to Saturday, Sept. 29, the Pirates announced, to accommodate the Pittsburgh Steelers' 8:20 p.m. ET game at Heinz Field on Sept. 30.
• The Pirates traded Minor League outfielder Todd Cunningham to the White Sox on Thursday for a player to be named. Signed as a Minor League free agent, Cunningham didn't have much of an opportunity to play on a crowded Triple-A Indianapolis roster.
UMPS CARE auction underway
Major League Baseball umpires will offer up more than 300 items that include priceless autographed sports memorabilia, one-of-a-kind VIP experiences, and upgraded ticket packages during its 10th Annual UMPS CARE Charities Online Auction. The auction is currently underway at www.mlb.com/UmpsCare and closes at 10 p.m. EDT on Monday. Some of the items up for bidding include signed bats, cleats, jerseys, photos, and baseballs from some of the biggest stars in baseball. There are also opportunities to watch batting practice up close on the field at many MLB ballparks, hotel stays with game tickets, opportunities to have lunch with an MLB umpire, suites and tickets from Minor League Baseball clubs, golf packages and more.
There's a signed Jameson Taillon jersey up for auction as well as box seats for the Pirates' Triple-A Indianapolis and Class A Advanced Bradenton affiliates.
All proceeds from the Online Auction support UMPS CARE Charities youth programs to provide Major League Baseball experiences for children awaiting adoption, Build-A-Bear Workshop® experiences for hospitalized children coping with serious illnesses, college scholarships for deserving young adults who were adopted as children, and financial assistance for families in need.
"Each year thanks to the support from our friends in Major League Baseball and throughout the sports world, we get some fantastic items for our auction, and this year is no exception," said Gary Darling, former MLB umpire and board president for UMPS CARE Charities. "This is the biggest fundraising initiative that we have to help so many children in need, and we can't thank everyone enough for all of the support. Please tell all of your friends, bid early and bid often to help this great cause."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.