Amid string of whiffs, Marte out of starting lineup

Amid string of whiffs, Marte out of starting lineup

CINCINNATI -- Pittsburgh leadoff hitter Starling Marte got a breather Wednesday, in the wake of his second straight three-strikeout game.

Jose Tabata moved into left field and into the leadoff spot for the afternoon series finale against the Reds. When Tabata was injured running into the wall on a catch in the fifth inning of a 4-0 loss to Cincinnati, Marte entered the game.

"I don't know if he's trying too hard, or if the swing is disconnected," manager Clint Hurdle said of Marte before the game. "But the swing doesn't look right to me."

The biggest problem with the swing is that it has been missing too many pitches. Marte has had a strange road trip, batting .389 (7-for-18) when making contact. But he has missed contact 16 times, bringing his season strikeout total to 24 in 60 at-bats.

He fanned three times in each of the first two games of this series, giving him four games with three strikeouts in the 14-game-old season.

"I just think he needs a day off to rest himself mentally," Hurdle said before the game. "So we'll back him away from the flame. We've been too soft at the top of the order."

It was also an opportunity to give Tabata a a starting shot, although he was hitless in eight career at-bats against the Reds' starter, Johnny Cueto. On Wednesday, Tabata went 0-for-2 with a strikeout against Cueto before leaving the game. Marte was also hitless against Cueto entering Wednesday, with two strikeouts in five at-bats. Facng Cueto in the series finale, Marte went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.

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.