Hurdle: Benefit to being home for WC Game

Hurdle: Benefit to being home for WC Game

LOS ANGELES -- As the Pirates and Cubs jockey for seeding in the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser as they each continue to pursue the division-leading Cardinals, Clint Hurdle addressed the importance of keeping the home-field edge that comes with the No. 1 seed in the winner-moves-on matchup.

Hurdle raised a couple of points to argue that home-field isn't a Wild Card must: His own Bucs split in the last two Wild Card games in PNC Park, and the Giants opened their 2014 World Series run on the road in Pittsburgh.

All that said, Hurdle conceded some of the benefits of playing a one-game "series" in familiar surroundings.

"It can be an advantage playing at home in front of your fans," Hurdle said. "And everyone's comfort level picks up. Your pitchers are in a better comfort zone, based on the pitching philosophy we have. There's something to be said for comfort, and the commitment that can come from comfort."

That might have been Hurdle's way of conceding the mental advantage of simply being more confident of being able to win at home.

That aspect could play even stronger for the Pirates this October, when a Wild Card game clearly would pit them against either the Cubs or the Cardinals.

They have held their own against those teams in PNC Park, with a representative overall record of 9-8 with three games against the Cardinals to go. In Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium, the Bucs are 5-10.

Touching all the bases

• First: Travis Snider has begun limited workouts at first base "as a possible depth option, and because he wants to do it," Hurdle said.

• Second: As promised, Michael Morse was presented his Dodgers uniform, which he never wore, having been flipped to the Bucs within hours of his acquisition from the Marlins. He was "issued" No. 27 -- Matt Kemp's former uniform.

• Third: Starling Marte nailed his 14th assist in Friday night's series opener. The last Pirates outfielder with more: Jose Guillen, with 16 in 1998.

• Home: Mike Witt recently became the newest inductee into the Angels Hall of Fame -- not for having been Jared Hughes' pitching coach at Santa Margarita High School, but for his 109-107 record with the 1981-90 California Angels.

Tom Singer is a reporter for 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.