Clint Hurdle: We Do Believe in Ourselves
By Tom Smith
Pittsburgh Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle seems a bit ticked off in his post-game interviews this season. After the Pirates exploded for nine runs in a blowout victory over the Braves last night, we could see it again.
"“We do believe in ourselves, we have that going for us,” Hurdle said as he stared intently at the reporters around his desk in Atlanta."
Hurdle believes in this club. It’s very evident.
The pitching staff is improved despite the club having the same record, 10 wins and 12 losses, as they did a season ago.
Unquestionably, it’s the early season offensive struggles that have taken their toll on the Bucco skipper. In last night’s post-game, he fired off his sarcastic – but valid – belief in the team, and then cruised through the last couple of questions.
Not that it should be a surprise, but it’s unmistakeable that Hurdle has confidence in his team.
Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, trying to measure fan support with April games at PNC Park is difficult. No, actually it blows. We trust Hurdle realizes there will be a shitload of Bucco fans this weekend showing their support for what this Pirates team has been able to accomplish after their April “Walk of Death” schedule.
Personally, we are satisfied with how the ball club finished up the month, and we’re thrilled with how they started the month. But what was in between was downright awful. If this team slumps over a significant period of time—as they did as a team in April, it will be difficult believing they could come away with a similar (near .500.) outcome.
The pitching staff simply hasn’t got enough credit for how they have performed. Seriously… we love JMac, but as much as we felt he would strikeout more bad guys, we didn’t expect to actually see him do it in April.
The Bucs skipper might have practiced his ‘I believe’ line in the mirror a few thousand times before he broke it out in front of the Pittsburgh media last night. He sure seemed confident, and rightfully so, after the Pirates were able to put up more than five runs for the first time in the 2012 season. But heh… the Pirates lineup – the constantly changing lineup – delivered in big time fashion.
Even if Pirates blowouts like this one come along just once a month.
It took about 12 pitches for the Bucs to go down 2-0, and James McDonald appeared to be on the ropes. After the Bucs nearly got back in the game on their first chance, the Pirates’ offense didn’t waste the opportunity when their second chance came back around.
The Pirates haven’t had much of a problem putting runners on base recently; the big struggle has been delivering the knockout punch.
Last night, the Pirates knockout punch came in a big way:
McDonald put up a career high ten strikeouts after his shaky start. We don’t know where the JMAKKKKKKKKKK switch is, but last night somebody flipped it—and that guy deserves a beer, because it was a pleasure watching JMac deal, sending batter after batter on the long, quiet walk back to the dugout.
The Lack-of-Lumber and Lightning offense delivered for the Bucs’ McDonald, who had received just two runs over 22-plus innings coming into last night’s game. JMac simply got more and more impressive as the game wore on and he relied on his dirty curveball.
Yamaico Navarro hit a laser beam two-run shot (check out the video in our hub section)
Pedro Alvarez continued on his torrid pace with another bomb, his fifth on the season, this one a two-run blast into the right field bleachers. How much fun is Pedro to watch when he is on a tear?
And Neil “the Pittsburgh Kid” Walker continued on his tear with three more hits. Walker is ripping the ball and it’s actually falling for him after a slow start to the season, where every other ball was a line drive hit directly at someone.
Games like last night haven’t happened for the Pirates very often in the past 19 years, but if this pitching staff can continue to dominate, Hurdle will have a lot of company on the belief bandwagon.