PITTSBURGH -- After facing left-handed starters in the first two games of the series with the Twins, the Pirates were able to return to their righty lineup for Thursday night's matchup. That meant left fielder Alex Presley back atop the batting order, and Garrett Jones back in right field and in the cleanup spot. One possible problem: Minnesota rookie right-hander Liam Hendriks prepared for his 10th Major League start with some upside-down splits. (And, no, that isn't referencing his origins from Down Under, Australia.) Right-handed batters had battered him for a .452 average, while lefties were hitting a modest .263 against the 23-year-old.
Other than attributing Hendriks' woes to probably falling behind too many right-handed hitters, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle waved off the splits as an influence on setting the lineup. "I have to look for opportunities to get guys involved," said Hurdle, mindful that Presley and Jones both have had only one pinch-hitting appearance since last weekend's series in Cleveland. "I don't see anything that says they can't hit [Hendriks]. That's a lineup I feel confident throwing out there." In that lineup, Pedro Alvarez remained in his latest, most productive spot: the six-hole. Alvarez had been there for only 16 of his first 59 games, yet exactly half of his 12 homers and 34 RBIs had come from that niche. "He's in a good spot now," Hurdle said. "And we've got guys in the middle holding their own as well. We'll see where they can take it."