Pittsburgh Pirates: Clint Hurdle Pushing All the Right Buttons

Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIApril 5, 2011

BRADENTON, FL - MARCH 02:  Manager Clint Hurdle #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates removes pitcher Ross Ohlendorf #49 during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game against the Minnesota Twins at McKechnie Field on March 2, 2011 in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

From now until the end of time, baseball managers will be second-guessed.

They will be second-guessed on the moves they make during a game by members of the media, fans and anyone with an opinion.

During a course of a game—especially in the National League—a manager will be faced with three or four situations that will leave him open for second-guessing.

Last night, in the morgue otherwise known as Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle was faced with those situations.

After Charlie Morton pitched six brilliant innings (not a typo) against a lifeless Cardinals lineup, Hurdle turned the game over to his bullpen.

Jose Veras pitched a scoreless seventh and things got dicey in the eighth.

Evan Meek, who was so solid last season, has been anything but solid this season. He struggled over the weekend against the Chicago Cubs and he was equally shaky against the Cardinals.

Meek allowed a single to Colby Rasmus and then walked Albert Pujols. On the second pitch to Lance Berkman, Berkman singled to right to make the score 4-2.

Most managers would stick with their guy in that situation, but not Hurdle. After just nine pitches, Hurdle lifted Meek for Mike Crotta. For those of you not familiar with Crotta, he is a 6’6″ righty that throws a mean downer.

With Crotta’s sinker, it was the perfect double play situation—and that's exactly what he got. Crotta got Allen Craig to hit a grounder to shortstop Ronny Cedeno for the tailor made 6-4-3 DP.

Unfortunately, Cedeno booted the ball, but did recover in time to get the led-footed Berkman at second. With the double play still in order, Hurdle left Crotta in to face David Freese.

It wasn’t a bad decision, considering around 50 percent of the balls that Freese has hit in his career have been groundballs—and while he didn’t end up getting the ground ball he wanted, he was able to strike Freese out.

With runners on second (Craig stole second) and third, Hurdle made another smart move. He went with his closer, Joel Hanrahan, for a four-out save.

So many managers would have left their closer in the bullpen because, God forbid, they should pitch more than one inning. But Hurdle realized this was the most important out of the game and went with his closer and his closer delivered.

Joel Hanrahan whiffed Yadier Molina to end the inning and then went through Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso (really?) and Ryan Theriot to end the game.

Often, a manager will make the right move and the moves backfire. In this case, Hurdle made the right move in each situation and his players delivered for him. Good for them.

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