Clint Hurdle continues to struggle with his in game decision making
Throughout his tenure as Pirate manager Clint Hurdle has been a great leader of men. He is a players manager, he does a great job of getting his guys to play for him and rally together. That said, his in game decision making has always left a lot to be desired.
This was on display once again against the Brewers.
On Saturday, the Pirates rallied from a 5-0 deficit to take a 7-5 lead on a pinch hit home run by Jose Osuna in the bottom of the 5th inning. Protecting a 2-run lead, Hurdle should have turned to Francisco Liriano to start the top of the 6th inning. Especially since the lefty was already warming for Christian Yelich later in the inning. Instead, Hurdle turned to the unreliable Clay Holmes.
Throughout his professional career Holmes has struggled with his control. He would walk two of the three batters he faced before Liriano was summoned to face Yelich. After the Pirate infield botched a routine pop up in foul ground, Liriano allowed a 3-run home run to Yelich that put the Brewers back in the lead.
While, yes, the Pirate defense needed to make the play on Yelich, going to Holmes to start the inning was a terrible decision by Hurdle. Going to Geoff Hartlieb in the 7th inning in an effort to keep the score at 8-7, instead of leaving Liriano in, was also a mistake. Thankfully, this one did not bite the Pirates as Hartlieb pitched 2 scoreless innings.
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On Sunday, Hurdle’s struggles continued.
The Pirates entered the bottom of the 9th inning trialing 4-2. Colin Moran doubled to start the inning, Gregory Polanco reached on catcher’s interference, and the Bucs had runners on the corners with no one out. Hurdle would then get in the way of the brewing Pirate rally.
For some god forsaken reason Hurdle called for Adam Frazier to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Anyone who reads my writing knows I loathe sacrifice bunting with position players. You only get 27 outs in a baseball game, do not give any away. In fact, giving outs away with a sacrifice bunt statistically lowers your chances of scoring in an inning.
Frazier’s bunt was fielded and quickly fired to second base. Polanco was out, Moran was unable to score, and Frazier’s bunt was essentially the same as a groundout or a fly out. The difference is a groundout or a fly out would have scored Moran, cut the Milwaukee lead to 4-3, and put more pressure on the Brewers.
The fact the Pirates are 28-30 and only 3.5 games out in the National League Wild Card race with the amount of injuries they have had to deal with this year is an accomplishment. That said, with better in game managing from Hurdle this team would have more wins. This series was not the first time this season that poor in game decision making by Hurdle cost the Pirates victories, and, sadly, odds are it will not be the last.