Patience helping Pirates rebound from slow start

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 30, 2014 at 2:04 am •  Published: June 30, 2014
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A slow start didn't rattle the Pittsburgh Pirates, who never stopped believing in themselves or the way they're built to win.

Manager Clint Hurdle's team has quietly compiled the NL's best record since May 2, rebounding from a poor opening month of the season to climb back over .500 for the first time since mid-April.

And with Andrew McCutchen, last year's league MVP, continuing to perform at an All-Star level, Neil Walker back in the lineup after recovering from an appentectomy, and Gerrit Cole rejoining the pitching rotation following a stint on the disabled list due to right shoulder fatigue, there's reason to believe the Pirates can contend for a playoff spot again.

Hurdle resisted any temptation there may have been to make major adjustments when things didn't go well early and the Pirates found themselves languishing near the bottom of the NL Central standings.

"We've been steadfast. There is an inclination in life and sports, in relationships, and when something goes wrong you change right away. When you continue to change right away and be re-active to everything that happens right away, what you get good at is change," Hurdle said.

"We believe in what we believe in. We believe there's a certain way we need to play the game. Things we need to get done on the mound. Things we need to get done on defense. The way we need to approach our at-bats," Hurdle added. "We've been mindful of that. We've worked hard every day to get a little bit better. And I think over the course of time, that has happened."

The Pirates (42-40) remain in fourth place, but will enter July feeling a lot better about themselves after going 17-10 in June.

They're 32-22 since falling eight games under .500 on May 1, with McCutchen ranking among the NL leaders in hits, RBIs, extra-base hits, total bases, slugging percentage and batting average during the month of June.

He's had help, too, including when Hurdle has gone with Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte and McCutchen in the top three spots in the batting order. The three have batted a combined .343 (46 of 134) with six doubles, two homers, 22 RBIs and 24 runs scored in the 10 games they've been the 1-2-3 hitters.