First Pitch: Youngsters take their lumps

Today’s Trivia: On Thursday, the San Diego PadresRyan Ludwick makes his first trip back to St. Louis since getting traded. Who is the only player with 50 career home runs for both the Padres and Cardinals?

MORTONQuick Hits: Charlie Morton gets the start for the Pittsburgh Pirates today, which opens the door for all sorts of fun notes on notably poor seasons. But he isn’t the only young player suffering from a steep learning curve.

• Morton is 1-11 in 56 2/3 IP, which would be the most losses ever for a pitcher with fewer than 60 innings. Rick Langford (1986 Oakland Athletics) and Johnny Murphy (1942 New York Yankees) both had 10.

• Among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched, Morton (9.05 ERA) has the highest ERA since 2000, when a pair of hurlers were even worse. One was Sean Bergman (9.66), but the other provides some hope for Morton. Roy Halladay had a 10.64 ERA that season, the highest ever for a pitcher who threw at least 50 innings.

• Morton has 11 losses in just 13 starts. The Elias Sports Bureau was able to provide some context looking ahead to today’s start. Over the last 30 seasons, the only NL pitcher with 12 or more losses in a span of 14 starts was Omar Daal for the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks in 2000.

• After a hitless Wednesday, Oakland’s Chris Carter is now 0-for-24 this season (and in his career). If the season ended today, he’d have the third-most at-bats without a hit in a season for a non-pitcher. Last year, Houston’s Jason Smith finished 0-for-25. The all-time mark belongs to Hal Finney, who was 0-for-35 for the Pirates in 1936.

• When you allow pitchers into the equation, Bob Buhl’s 0-for-70 season in 1962 takes the cake.

• If Morton can take solace in Halladay’s season, there must be similar hope for Carter. How about a pair of Hall of Famers? Tony Perez was 2-for-25 in his first cup of coffee, while Brooks Robinson was 2-for-22.

Taylor Teagarden is back up in spot duty for Texas. He has 30 strikeouts in 62 at-bats this season. Since 1900, the only player was more strikeouts in a season of 70 or fewer at-bats was Jack Cust (32 K in 65 AB) in 2002.

• Well, this one can only be characterized as bizarre. In 14 1/3 innings, Atlanta’s Mike Dunn hasn’t allowed an earned run. The last rookie with a season of more innings without allowing an earned run was Fernando Valenzuela, who went 17 2/3 innings in 1980. Here’s where it gets strange. Dunn has issued 15 walks – more than a walk per inning. If the season ended today, he’d hold the MLB record for most walks in a season without allowing a run. That distinction currently belongs to Bob McClure, who walked 14 in 1975, but was unscored upon.

Today’s Leaderboard: Troy Tulowitzki’s September has been astounding. But rather than show each leaderboard, take a look at how far ahead he is in several categories.

Troy Tulowitzki vs all others in September

Key Matchups: Trying to get lefties in against Chad Billingsley, Bruce Bochy got creative with his lineup on Wednesday. Regulars like Pat Burrell and Jose Guillen were benched in favor of Eugenio Velez and Nate Schierholtz. But that should change with lefty Ted Lilly taking the mound on Thursday. Shouldn’t it? Burrell is just 1-for-9 in his career against Lilly, while Jose Guillen is 3-for-20 with nine strikeouts. The only lefty Guillen has a worse average against (min. 20 PA) is Billy Wagner.

Tim Stauffer gets the start for the Padres, who sit just a half game up on the San Francisco Giants. His 0.64 road ERA is the lowest in the majors (min. 25 IP), with Mariano Rivera (1.30) a distant second. However, Stauffer is 0-3 in three previous appearances against the Cardinals. Among active pitchers who have pitched at least 10 innings against St. Louis, Stauffer’s 10.13 ERA is the third highest.

Trivia Answer: Jack Clark is the only player with 50+ HR for both the Padres and Cardinals. In fact, no other player has 30 for both franchises.