ShareThis Page

Pirates closer Hanrahan enjoys 20-20 vision

| Thursday, June 23, 2011

Entering Wednesday night's games, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan was tied with Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel, San Francisco's Brian Wilson and Florida's Leo Nunez with 20 saves. He trailed only Colorado's Huston Street, who has a National League-leading 22.

But it was the comparison to Goose Gossage by manager Clint Hurdle after the Pirates' 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles that made the maximum-velocity right-hander cringe with humility.

"Come on, Clint," Hanrahan said. "You need to go check his pulse in there. That's obviously a huge comparison. I'm just being aggressive. I've got a big body, so I'm using it."

It's working.

Hanrahan registered his 20th save in 20 opportunities yesterday in a run the likes of which Hurdle said he hasn't seen in a long time. Hanrahan entered the season with 20 saves for his entire major league career. His previous season high was nine, set in 2008 with the Washington Nationals.

He hasn't given up a run since June 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies, which happens to be the last time he gave up a hit. In his past eight appearances, Hanrahan has walked one, struck out seven and recorded six saves.

This year, Hanrahan is 0-1 with a 1.35 ERA and has given up just six runs — five earned — and 25 hits. The only homer he has allowed was a solo shot to Cincinnati's Jay Bruce on May 19.

"I don't know (where he ranks right now), but I've said before that one guy he does remind of me that I faced a few times is Goose Gossage," Hurdle said. "He's a big-bodied guy out there. ... If your foot's not down by the time he grunts, you're going to be late. And then he's got that funny pitch, the slider, that can make you take a funny swing. You've got to get ready to hit 97 (mph). And anything that's not 97, that's got sharp (movement) and some tilt, it's tough to square up."

Hanrahan isn't looking at his body of work this season, which could earn him a trip to the All-Star Game in Phoenix. He's preparing for each outing, and trying to end games as quickly as possible.

"I'm looking for opportunities to get out there, and when I do, try to make the most of it," he said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.