Arbitrary end points, but ...
Over the last 24 games Pirates pitchers have posted 1.89 ERA. During this stretch they've allowed 46 earned runs and only 177 hits in 219.2 innings.
"Nobody's going to get cut if they don't throw a shutout," Hurdle joked afterwards. "They're just trying to keep the chains moving ... I haven't seen anything like this in all my years of managing, a run like this from the starting rotation."
Pirates starters have a 1.70 ERA and close to a 60 percent ground ball rate in their last 90 innings pitched.
"I came from Tampa, there were a lot of good starters over there, so can't say I [haven't seen a run like this]," Sean Rodriguez said. "But I don't want to take any credit away from these guys because they are definitely doing something special."
The Pirates offense hasn't been too bad over this 24-game stretch, either. Pittsburgh's hitters are averaging 4.58 runs to contribute to the 19-5 run.
"It definitely makes it easier on the offense," Andrew McCutchen said. "It was great for us to come in and score a lot of runs like we did yesterday. But, overall, pitching is keeping us in the ballgame."
Sounds like a broken record, but ...
Charlie Morton's fine start earned Pirates starters another Bill James Gem. It is their league-leading 25th gem of the season.
After throwing seven shutout innings, Morton's ERA dropped to 1.62.
"I guess the failure in spring training forced me to change some things and, then, going on the DL gave me the opportunity to do that," Morton said.
Cervelli extends scoreless streak; contributes homer
Francisco Cervelli extended his scoreless streak behind the plate to 51 innings.
"He's awesome. He's done a great job," Morton said. "[He does] everything. Calls a great game. Good set-up and good receiver. If he sees something he'll come out and talk to you. He keeps it simple and knows the hitters. He's just all-around very good."
In the sixth, he extended the Pirates lead to 3-0 with a solo-home run. Cervelli's now batting .324/.404/.418 with a 136 wRC+. At his current pace (which, of course, will be tough to maintain), he'd end with a WAR 0.1 higher than Russell Martin did in 460 plate appearances last season.
"He's doing a fantastic job behind the plate with all the pitchers," Hurdle said. "Offensively, he's found some rhythm and some rhyme. Staying to his strengths and getting good pitches and getting good looks ... He's playing some backyard baseball. It's fun to watch."
Sounds like a broken record, but ... (Part 2)
Mark Melancon grabbed his 19th save in a row tonight. During the streak he has allowed one run and struck out only eight over 18.1 innings pitched. His performance this season has been 1962 Roy Face-esque so far.
Fly balls catch up with Quintana
Jose Quintana entered the game with the 10th best HR/FB rate among 106 qualified starters, 5.6 percent. Tonight, the Pirates hit two solo home runs on six fly balls.