Cervelli humbled to match formidable mark

Cervelli humbled to match formidable mark

WASHINGTON -- Francisco Cervelli has not come by his MLB catchers-best .316 average and stellar defensive reputation by chance. He is one of the hardest-working Pirates, sequestered both before and after games in a workout room, on the road as well as at home.

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Thus, until being accosted as he entered Nationals Park's visiting clubhouse early Friday afternoon, he hadn't had a chance to comment on recently tying a 112-year-old Pirates record.

"I didn't tie the record," Cervelli said, eyes sparkling.

Yes, he was corrected, by catching his 56th consecutive scoreless inning on Wednesday night in Chicago, he had matched catcher Ed Phelps' shutout streak of 1903.

"So I didn't tie it … 56 and two-thirds," Cervelli said proudly, alluding to the White Sox having scored with two outs in the sixth inning.

Ahh, Cervelli was again corrected -- inning fractions officially don't count in such streak records.

The effervescent Venezuelan shrugged his shoulders and smiled, then quickly tried to pass the bouquet.

"It's not me. It's them," he said, referring to the pitchers he has been catching. "All I do is put down my glove and catch the ball."

That, of course, is not what the grateful hurlers who heap praise on Cervelli have been saying, he is told.

"Well, then, it's their word against mine," he said.

Continuing more seriously, Cervelli said seeing the staff craft a 1.75 ERA through the first 16 games of June has been "amazing to watch. They've been incredible. I've never been a part of anything like this."

Touching all the bases

• First: The Pirates on Friday announced signing two more selections from the 2015 Draft: right-hander Stephan Meyer from Bellevue University (18th round) and lefty Sean Keselica out of Virginia Tech (33rd round).

• Second: The Bucs' 3-2 victory over the White Sox on Thursday was their sixth straight in games in which they scored no more than three runs, never done before in the team's 129-year history.

• Third: Pittsburgh took an ERA of 2.72 into Friday night's game, the first time its staff ERA has been as low past the 65-game mark of a season since 1968, when it finished at 2.74.

Of course, that was the season so dominated by pitching that it led to the mound being lowered. And while the National League's average ERA in 1968 was 2.99, it now rests at 3.84.

• Home: From 2008-11, the Pirates at one point endured 13 straight losses in American League ballparks. Since the last of that string on June 19, 2011, the Bucs have gone 19-15 as visitors in Interleague Play.

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.