On Tuesday night, the Chicago Cubs put left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin on the mound to face the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates’ prime lineup on paper is a better team against right-handed pitching. With hitters like Justin Morneau, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker (who is a switch hitter who hits better from the left side), one would think that a left-hander would give the Pirates problems.
Pirates fans have no fear, however, as manager Clint Hurdle knows how to handle his lineup on these days. Hurdle does not necessarily play the starter on these days, but the player he feels will have the better night. Hurdle has been making all the right moves ever since he became the Pirates manager.
Hurdle took over the team on October 10, 2010, and people instantly had various comments about this new skipper. Some said, “Oh he has a bad record as a manger and if he was so good, then why did team like the Colorado Rockies fire him?” Others said, “Look, this guy has coached in a World Series, why wouldn’t the Bucs want him as their manager?”
After two straight seasons where the Pirates looked promising and collapsed at the end, upper management has shown patience with Hurdle and they are now reaping the benefits.
Hurdle is a manager that has shown he loves to play tough and loves to take risks. He will call a squeeze play to score a run at times when no one else would. Hurdle will put in the right pinch hitter in the perfect situation. A perfect example of that is Starling Marte’s big pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning against Chicago to seal the Pirates’ first playoff game in 20 years.
Hurdle is the kind of manager that you want your team to have going into October. Hurdle leaves it all out there, and there is never a question of him doing everything he could to put his team in the best situation to win each and every night.
If the Pirates can somehow pull off winning the NL Central or just make it to a playoff series, look no further than Clint Hurdle. He was the perfect man for the job at a time when Pirates fans need him the most, and he will continue to be that man throughout his tenure in Pittsburgh.