ATLANTA -- The announced crowd for Monday night's series opener at Turner Field was 20,252, but with the Braves having fallen out of contention, no-shows lowered the number of occupied seats to considerably fewer.
Which gave Pirates manager Clint Hurdle yet another reason to explain the refreshing success of John Holdzkom, the independent ball refuge who had his eighth scoreless appearance in the 1-0 victory.
"This was a crowd he's more used to," Hurdle said. "Where this guy has pitched, there were more people in the dugout than in the stands. It's a tremendous story."
Tuesday was the three-month anniversary of the Pirates signing the tall righty out of Amarillo.
Not that pitching in front of sellout crowds has affected Holdzkom. He furthered his spotless big league baptismal with three outings during the Pirates' recently completed sold-out homestand. Holdzkom has allowed two hits and two walks while fanning 12 in those eight innings. That's a WHIP of 0.50.
"He's coming in and just beating up the strike zone," Hurdle said.
Hurdle was asked something Tuesday afternoon he thought he had already answered Monday night: How much trust do you now have in the green rookie?
"Watch the games. You can gauge that by when he pitches," Hurdle answered.
Holdzkom had been given the eighth inning, with this team leading, 1-0. It is difficult to imagine a manager having any more confidence in a reliever.
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.