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Marte displaying first-inning magic atop lineup

Marte displaying first-inning magic atop lineup

MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates have been careful to not get too carried away with the first month of Starling Marte's first full Major League season, to avoid burdening him with expectations.

So Marte's .327 average entering Wednesday's game and 7-for-9 stolen base rate, plus his defensive artistry, have received modest praise in the small-sample-size category.

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But that game-opening magic ... it's tough to shrug off the crazy numbers. Entering Wednesday afternoon's game, Marte was 14-for-22 (.636) starting games, with a game-opening on-base percentage of .692, having reached base 18-of-26 times. He popped out in foul ground to start Wednesday's game, but hit a clutch game-tying two-run homer in the eighth inning to propel Pittsburgh to a 6-4 win. He now has three homers and 13 RBIs.

"The numbers are eye-opening," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle admitted. "Preparation is part of it, and another big part is laying off bad pitches. His swing has been in a good place, Opening Day to now.

"You don't expect him to hit .600 in the first inning all-time, but to even carry it a month is pretty interesting. He's got a chance to be a very dynamic leadoff hitter with the skill-set he has, and it's been fun to watch."

Marte, of course, has had a big part in the Pirates' first-inning offense. They've scored in the first inning in nine of the season's first 28 games.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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