Talk about making an instant impact. Outfielder Starling Marte was called up from Class AAA Indianapolis and placed into the lineup Thursday night with hopes he could gives the Pittsburgh Pirates' offense a boost from the leadoff spot. Marte did just that. In his major league debut, Marte hit the first pitch of the game for a home run off Houston Astros rookie left-hander Dallas Keuchel to get the Pirates going on their way to a 5-3 victory. The win drew the Pirates within two games of Cincinnati in the National League Central and kept them atop of the NL wild-card standings. Marte, 23, played left field and went 2-for-4. He is expected to play every day in left. The Pirates had been using a platoon of Alex Presley and Drew Sutton there since Jose Tabata was optioned to Indianapolis on July 3. Marte became just the second Pirates player to homer on his first pitch and the first since Walter Mueller did so on May 7, 1922. The only other Pirates player to homer in his first at-bat was Don Leppert on June 18, 1961. Marte also became just the fifth Pirate to hit a homer in his first major league game and the first since Leppert. Manager Clint Hurdle met with Marte prior to game, and his message was to stay relaxed. "Some young players might grab the mind-set of, 'There's a lot going on here, and I don't want to mess up,'" Hurdle said. "My expectations are for Marte to fear nothing, respect everything, prepare and focus. Go play like you're 6 years old and in the back yard." Marte was having a fine season at Indianapolis, hitting .286 in 98 games with 20 doubles, 13 triples, 12 home runs, 61 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
- Pittsburgh Pirates