Pirates eager to get whole lineup clicking

Offensive core's production hasn't matched team's results

Pirates eager to get whole lineup clicking

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the season's first two months, the Pirates' offense has been a glass-half-empty, half-full propositon. What can happen when they fill it to the brim?

"Look at [the Giants'] lineup, with the averages and on-base percentages," manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday morning before the Bucs tried to sweep the Giants off their own AT&T Park field. "That's clicked pretty well. We believe that's the kind of lineup we have when everybody is at the pace they're capable. Which hasn't been the case."

Underscoring that fact was the absence from Wednesday's starting lineup of Starling Marte, because he had dragged a .125 average across the last 12 games. But guess what? The Pirates had won 10 of them.

The incongruity of such team success without significant assistance from a middle-of-the-order guy is reminiscent of an earlier bizarre sequence: The core trio of Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen and Marte combined to hit .242 while the Bucs were on a four-game winning streak from May 9-12, then ripped at a .447 pace during the immediately ensuing four-game losing streak from May 13-16.

Harrison's three-run homer

How high is the ceiling when this offense syncs up?

"The nice part is that guys have continued to help in different spots throughout the lineup," Hurdle said. "Everybody's had good runs to help us win games. We have a lineup capable of producing runs from top to bottom, in a lot of different ways, when we get them all on the same page."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.