Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pirates banging away toward playoff bid

Peter Diana/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ike Davis is congratulated Wednesday night after hitting a three-run homer against the Boston Red Sox at PNC Park.

To think of themselves as the contemporary purveyors of an offense with historic dimensions, the Pirates were merely waiting on Ike Davis.
As only nine of Davis' 10 homers this season had come in a Pirates uniform (his first was with the New York Mets in April), it wasn't until Davis rode a fifth-inning pitch from Boston's Steven Wright over the center-field fence Wednesday night that some perfectly Pirates history got made.
With his 11th homer of the season, a three-run jack that sparked the laugh track, Davis became the ninth Pirates player with 10 or more homers in black and gold in this positively pyrotechnic summer.
"I did an interview [earlier Wednesday], and they said I only had nine, and I swore I had 10, so it was confusing me," Davis said a few minutes after he had led this 9-1 pasting of the Red Sox. "So I was aware, and you know, I think it's pretty cool. Especially with a lot of guys who were platoon players, started off as bench players and got jobs, or been up and down. So for us to do that, it's pretty amazing."
Davis, Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Russell Martin, Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer, Travis Snider and Pedro Alvarez each have hit at least 10, the first time nine players have reached double figures in homers in the entire 128-year history of seagoing malevolence.
"You know, every time I've sat there and thought, 'Man a home run would be nice right here,' I don't think we've ever hit one," manager Clint Hurdle said before he was in the ramp up to this 10th Pirates victory in the past 12 games. "Now that we've got more guys in the lineup hitting 'em, I really make sure I don't say it, because then there are more opportunities.
"See how that works?"
I'm afraid I do.
As the manager suggests, homer distribution remains an inelegant statistic.
Eight members of the 2007 Pirates reached 10 homers in the process of going 68-94, so perhaps this bit of history isn't exactly parade-worthy, and it probably should be noted that two of most fearsome Pirates offenses ever (1972 and 1979) each had only five players reach double figures.
OK, if you like -- Willie Stargell, Richie Hebner, Al Oliver, Roberto Clemente and Bob Robertson in 1972; Stargell, Bill Robinson, Dave Parker, Phil Garner and Jon Milner in 1979.
But this club ...
"This club, for me, has really developed an offensive identity," Hurdle said. "We talked about it for three years, tried to push it, and certain individuals got it, but, now, collectively, it's getting to be more of a group effort."
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