The Pittsburgh Pirates reached the 100-game mark Tuesday night at PNC Park with playoff hopes disappearing. While the season gets shorter, so do opportunities to reverse their current losing trend (eight losses in the first 10 games after the All-Star break).
Of course, what happens next is that it becomes open season on the manager.
What does Clint Hurdle do in the meantime? Going home to his family after a game helps, and he said he is mindful not to take his frustrations through the front door with him.
“I’ve gotten better over the years,” he said. “I’m pretty good.”
Even after back-to-back extra-inning losses Sunday and Monday when the team squandered several chances to win. Even after four of the eight losses since the break have been decided by one run.
“For me personally, for our team, (Monday) night hurt,” said Hurdle, who will turn 62 next Tuesday. “I never lose it.
“However, in my position, I have to find a way to turn it off. I have a home to go to, man. I got people at home who are counting on me just as much.
“I got kids at home who are looking for me to show up in the morning when they wake up. I got a wife who deserves my time and attention when I get home.
“I’ve also learned that (agonizing) and worry, it just steals so much joy and so much life from you, man, when you need to be plugged into something else.”
Unlike the talk shows, media members and fans, Hurdle said his family does not second-guess his baseball decisions.
“My wife (Karla) doesn’t watch enough. She loves me unconditionally,” he said. “My son (14-year-old Christian) is not a baseball fan, really, as far as following the game and (16-year-old daughter) Maddie just wants us to win.”
Reality sets in for Hurdle when he turns the key in his car and returns to PNC Park.
“As soon as I leave that door to head back to the park in the car, sure, there are some thoughts that pop into your mind,” he said. “Once I walk through that door (of his office), it’s full game on.”
Before Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Hurdle met with reporters in his office — it’s a regular gameday occurrence — and a question was raised about Elias Diaz’s failed sacrifice bunt attempt Monday with no outs in the 10th inning, runners on first and second in a one-run game.
In 214 major league games, Diaz never successful laid down a sacrifice bunt, although he did it 17 times in the minors. The attempt cost the Pirates a precious out, and runners remained on first and second.
“If he hits into a double play, that’s a tough pill for me to swallow,” Hurdle said, explaining why he called for a bunt. “I don’t care what you (reporters) think about it. It’s a tough one for me to swallow.
“We’ve got one pitcher left in the bullpen, you get a bunt down, and we get the winning run — the winning run — on second base and you got (Adam) Frazier coming up (after Jacob Stallings, who hit a single that likely would have tied the score if Diaz moved up the runners).
“When it doesn’t work, it’s not the right decision, no matter what the percentages tell you,” he said. “It didn’t work out.
“There have been games where I don’t think I’ve made good decisions and we’ve won and games where I think I made the right decision and we’ve lost. Those are things you live with as a manager.”