ATLANTA -- Prior to Friday night's game with the Braves, Clint Hurdle was addressing the remarkable run enjoyed by his starting pitchers, giving much of the credit for them claiming the team's previous 14 wins to the Pittsburgh offense.
"You got to get your starters some runs to put them in position [to get wins]," said Hurdle, complimenting his lineup for producing while the starter is still in the game.
Producing after the starter has left the game can also be good. This was the case for No. 15 in that run, Charlie Morton's 10-8 win over the Braves, in which the Bucs did most of their scoring following his removal.
"Wow, that's awesome," Morton said when informed that he and his fellow starters have been credited with every Pirates win since May 11. "But that's the kind of team we have. We take care of each other."
On a night when he couldn't execute pitches -- proof of which were three walks in five innings, including one of his mound opponent -- Morton remained confident because "I know we have a good baseball team. That gives me confidence."
Corey Hart batted for Morton in the top of the sixth, with the game tied at 4, and was called out on strikes for the inning's second out. Then Gregory Polanco singled, and Starling Marte lost a ball among the right-field fans.
And the starters' run continued in a way that was "very unconventional," Hurdle concurred. "We've been able to put up a couple marks for our starting pitchers, helping them on this very unique run they're on."
Indeed, this wasn't the rotation's first going-away present during the Bucs' 12-2 spree. On May 27 in PNC Park, Gerrit Cole left for a hitter in the bottom of the seventh when he trailed the Marlins 1-0; the Bucs turned that into a five-run inning to present him with the win.
To put the 15 wins in perspective, following their June 5 game last season, Pittsburgh starters had a season total of 12 wins, compared to the bullpen's total of 16.
In Friday night's case, runs definitely were Morton's best friend. Proverbially, of course, double plays are any pitcher's BFF, and the Pittsburgh infield came up with four more of them, upping the team's runaway MLB-leading total to 66.