09/20/12 10:58 PM ET
Attitude adjustment: Bucs' standards have changed
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
In hindsight, Clint laments recent sluggishness
PITTSBURGH -- Baseball people are renowned for moving on from yesterday and never looking in the rear-view mirror. In an everyday sport like baseball, a good philosophy. Managers are best of them all at turning the page.However, Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle allowed himself a rare moment of hindsight, prior to a 9-7 loss Thursday, to contemplate the quest for .500 having displaced the postseason as his team's practical objective. He evidently couldn't easily let go of the Pirates' six-game run entering the day, a 2-4 stretch that has removed them from contention. Turn that into 5-1, and the Bucs are at the head of the Wild Card hunt. And in the manager's view, that would not have been much of a reach. "I very rarely get into the 'could've' game," Hurdle said. "But we win the second game in Chicago, need to put away the third, win the fourth, and get two starts here that give us shots to win." Instead ... the Pirates squandered leads of 6-1 and 9-5 in that third-game loss against the Cubs and dropped the first two games of the Milwaukee series despite starters A.J. Burnett and rookie Kyle McPherson combining to hold the heavy-handed Brewers to four runs in 10 1/3 innings. "The pitching has been giving us a chance to put things together," Hurdle said. "But we have not made good adjustments with the bat. We're getting pitches to hit, but the mindset has to change." The Pirates entered the day on a 7-20 skid that has put them in danger of finishing with a losing record for the 20th consecutive season. During that stretch, the Pirates averaged 3.6 runs per game. A third of all that scoring came on 23 home runs.
Thursday's loss was the Pirates' sixth straight at home. They have scored 15 runs in those games.
"I'm not a fan of it. You like to see the batting title won on the field, not by being removed from the game for making a bad choice. That's probably not the best way for it to end."
-- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on the possibility of Melky Cabrera winning the National League batting title while suspended for 50 games, including 45 during the 2012 regular season, after a violation of MLB's Drug Program.
Andrew McCutchen hit his 30th homer on Thursday. Pedro Alvarez has 29. The two can become the first pair of Pirates teammates to hit 30 since 2001 (Brian Giles 37, Aramis Ramirez 34).
When the Brewers jumped Wandy Rodriguez for three runs out of the gate on Thursday, it was the 62nd time -- in 149 games -- that the Bucs' foes have scored in the first inning.
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.