Clint Hurdle provided a serious jolt to the Pirates lineup Friday night in Cincinnati, moving Andrew McCutchen from No. 3 to leadoff, dropping Jose Tabata a notch to No. 2, moving Lyle Overbay up to No. 3, and deploying Neil Walker at cleanup for the first time in his professional career.
All kinds of offense, all of a sudden.
Even with McCutchen going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, the rest pounded out 14 hits in a 6-1 victory. Tabata had a career-high four hits, Overbay two hits and a walk, Walker a two-run home run, and even struggling Pedro Alvarez chipped in a double.
So, is the offense as promising as it looked in the opening week, or as punchless as it has looked most of the time since then?
"I think it will turn around," Alvarez said. "We just have to keep working, keep fighting."
"It's been frustrating because we know what we can do," McCutchen said. "We know we can hit the ball. We know we can score runs."
That remains to be seen over the long haul, of course, but it stands to reason that Alvarez and McCutchen, both of whom are now batting .196, will end up with far better figures by summer's end. And it had to be encouraging for the team to see three hits from Chris Snyder, and a home run, another hit and two walks for Garrett Jones, as the bottom of the order had been adding next to nothing.
But one glowing positive, perhaps, out of this one game is that Hurdle barely waited before making a rather dramatic shuffle of his lineup, something his predecessor, John Russell, almost never did. The Pirates had been struggling as a group for only two games before Hurdle took action.
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