The Pirates last played the Dodgers on April 7. Los Angeles swept the series, leaving the Pirates 1-5 as they headed to Arizona. The Pirates have posted a 38-22 record since that series and have become one of the surprise teams in Major League Baseball.
This afternoon I asked Dodgers manager Don Mattingly if he saw any indication of this turnaround coming.
Since you've last seen the Pirates they've played 16 games over .500, largely on the strength of their pitching, the bullpen in particular. Did you see something like this coming for them, their pitching as such a strength?
You know I really didn't look at them that closely, other than just preparing for them. A lot of those guys we saw last year, the last two years, have obviously gotten off to a good start. And obviously the last two years they've gotten off to a really good start.
I think their bullpen was good last year, too. It seems a lot like the same team, but obviously with more experience and they've added pieces. They got Grilli in there closing the door for them.
But I can't say that I actually seen it coming. I just knew they had a good club and that when we prepared for them they had a lot of the same guys, you know, their regular every day players just getting more experience.
Notes from Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's afternoon press scrum:
-P- Marte is still day-to-day. He injured himself sliding head first while trying to steal second base.
-P- Hurdle said that Locke's effectiveness is largely attributable to his ability to go inside and then having enough command to go six inches out, and moving the ball in and out with command. Hurdle cited Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, who moved the ball around similarly and found great success:
For a long time Tommy Glavine did it on the other side of the plate (inside) and then started pitching to his glove hand. Maddux is whole career stayed away. Not big time velocity, but then started cutting the ball in and made another career from starting to throw the ball on the inside part of the plate. When you can start using the inside part of the plate as a pitcher that's when you start creating separation and go from being OK, to average, from average to above average, from above average to being elite.