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Bucs' pitching dominance something to enjoy

Hurdle wants players to embrace one-of-a-kind run

CHICAGO -- Everywhere else on the Major League landscape, in ballparks coast to coast, fans and players were telling each other, "Welcome to The Show."

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Here, however, the Pirates' Wednesday afternoon greeting was, "Welcome to The SHO." Entering the opener of a two-game set against the White Sox, the Bucs had tossed three straight shutouts, 30 consecutive shutout innings and five shutouts in six games.

Like just about everyone else, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle didn't know how best to characterize his club's pitching dominance. But he knew the best way to treat it.

"The shutouts, the scoreless innings caught (51, by Francisco Cervelli), the no man to third base (in 28 straight innings), we were talking about that last night on the plane," Hurdle said. "I don't think I've witnessed anything of this ilk. It's been the best stretch of performances I've seen.

"And I just told our guys to embrace it, enjoy it. One of the problems is, guys are always told, 'Keep your head down and go hard.' But to witness this. So I told the coaches, 'This may never happen again in your professional career as a coach, or in mine as a manager, so let your guys know how much fun it's been to watch.'"

Hurdle has been with two teams that went to the World Series -- the 2007 Rockies that he managed, and the 2010 Rangers, with whom he served as hitting coach -- so he has been around pitching staffs whose cogs regularly tendered peak performances. But not simultaneously, not like this.

"I don't think so," he said. "In Colorado, we has some good pitching performances. The year I was in Texas, we had a very good pitching staff. We've had good pitching performances here. But not a run like this."

The scoreless run ended at 35 innings in the sixth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 victory when the White Sox scored their two runs.

Touching all the bases

• First: Mark Melancon's save Tuesday night was No. 70 with the Pirates, tying Jose Mesa (2004-05) for fifth place on the club's all-time list. Joel Hanrahan is No. 4 with 82.

• Second: The Pirates did not complete their first series sweep last season until July 6. Even without counting the two-game PNC Park set with the White Sox, they already have six sweeps this season.

• Third: The Bucs took a record of 37-27 into Wednesday night's game. In 2014, they did not reach 10 games over .500 until Sept. 16 (80-70).

• Home: The Pirates, with Andrew McCutchen doing the honors, got their first '15 crack at DH-ing, at which they flopped last season. Six different players combined to go 6-for-39 at DH, with only two RBIs and 17 strikeouts. Of the six, only Pedro Alvarez is still on the team.

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.
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