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Pirates Notebook

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Barmes Hears Boos, But Gets A Couple Hits

Barmes Hears Boos, But Gets A Couple Hits
The Pirates starting shortstop entered Wednesday with the worst on-base percentage in the Majors (among qualified hitters), reaching base in just below one out of every five plate appearances.
But Barmes found a spark against Mets starter Jonathon Niese, knocking singles in the fifth and eighth innings. And his fellow Clint, manager Clint Hurdle, hopes the two base hits lead to more.
"Sometimes little things spark big things. A little grass-finding here and there can help a hitter. Nothing really helps an athlete's confidence more than a little success."
Still, Barmes heard the boos come down from the Pirates faithful after he grounded out in his first at-bat Wednesday.
"I think I've earned that, in a way. It has not been fun, it has not been good. I'm not happy with it. Obviously they're not," Barmes said. "Do I like it? No. Do I want to change it? I'm doing everything I can to change that. I'm not happy where I'm at either."

There's a lot of work to do. Barmes' lack of production may be compounded by the fact that he is swinging at the second-most pitches outside the strike zone (45.2 percent) in the Majors.
"At certain times, I was taking a lot of pitches early for strikes," Barmes said about his approach. "Then I thought I would be a little bit more aggressive early. It's a game of adjustments.

"I'm going to continue to keep making adjustments that I feel I need to make and do that for as long as I can. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. But at least I can say that I did everything I could do."

Hernandez Makes First MLB Start
After 24-year-old Gorkys Hernandez struck out in his Major League debut Monday, he got a few chances to redeem himself. In fact, he saw his name Sharpied as the No. 2 hitter on the Pirates' lineup card Wednesday. Hernandez became the seventh different Pirates hitter to hit in the two spot this season.

"I was so excited, for me, my family, my wife, everything," Hernandez said. "It's an opportunity to do my job."
While he went 0-for-3 in his first MLB start, he did reach base in the 8th inning. He also flashed some speed in the outfield and down the first-base line, nearly beating out a routine ground ball to shortstop in the 3rd inning.

Jason Grilli Continues To Throw Cheese
It was just another day at the office for reliever Jason Grilli, pitching a perfect inning and striking out the Mets 2-3-4 hitters, Kirk Niewenhuis, David Wright and Lucas Duda. Grilli now is the proud owner of 30 strikeouts in just 17 innings of work this season.

"Always feels good, but it would feel much better with 1-2-3 and a win. Either way, a win is much better than a loss, it's never about my individual accomplishments. We're trying to get everything in synch and win some ballgames."

But one can't deny that Grilli is helping the team by generating swings and misses. His rate of 1.76 strikeouts per inning is the best in baseball this year for any reliever with more than 10 innings of work.

"I'm just trying to get people out," Grilli said. "As a relief pitcher, you have got to be aggressive. You come into situations that are tough and try to work your way through them. That's something that I learned to love and enjoy doing."

Josh Harrison "Getting The Flow" With A Nine-Game Streak
He may be in a different spot on the field most days, but at the plate, Josh Harrison leads the Pirates with a nine-game hitting streak after a leadoff double to start the 6th inning Wednesday. It helps Harrison's rhythm that he has been in the starting lineup for eight straight days, be it at designated hitter, second base, shortstop, third base or right field.

"The more you play, the more comfortable you get. You get a flow and a feel for a game. I started getting the flow and more comfortable."
During his nine-game streak, Harrison has raised his season batting average from .179 to .274. And his manager has taken notice, thus the eight straight games in the lineup.
"I just like what I'm seeing. I like the approach. I like the way he goes about his business. I like the way he battles in the batter's box," Hurdle said. "So we're looking for guys that are competing within the box. He is definitely doing that. And we've got to find ways to keep him plugged into the offense. Time will tell where he can take it, but I'm very open-minded."

Morton Changes Up Repertoire Against Lefties
Lefties teed off Morton in 2011, his first season utilizing a three-quarters delivery and more of a two-seam sinker. Those left-handed hitters recorded an astronomical .364 batting average and .960 OPS on Morton.

But this season has been different, with lefties hitting for a .284 average and .654 OPS. The success, Morton says, is partly due to throwing less of that sinker to lefties, and more curveballs and cutters.

"I didn't start throwing a cutter until late 2010. It developed into a cutter," Morton said. "And I didn't really throw it a ton last year, and now I'm throwing it at lefties and righties and getting decent results. I'm trying to put emphasis on getting back to my sinker and knowing that I can still get lefties out."

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