Hanrahan locked in as Pirates' closer

Hanrahan locked in as Pirates' closer

Hanrahan locked in as Pirates' closer
NEW YORK -- If the Pirates are in line to win their first game at Citi Field, they'll look to Joel Hanrahan to close the door and snap their eight-game losing streak at the Mets' new home.

Hanrahan has enjoyed a breakout season since being named the Pirates' Opening Day closer during Spring Training.

Hanrahan became the team's closer last August, racking up six saves after Octavio Dotel was traded to the Dodgers.

This year, Hanrahan has converted each of his 14 save chances and has posted a career best 1.52 ERA in 23 2/3 innings.

"I just kind of worry about my business the same way," Hanrahan said. "I've really focused on working on my command overall of trying to throw strikes -- and better located strikes -- and just being more aggressive."

Hanrahan has had success this season in large part by limiting his free passes. Even though he has struck out batters at a lower rate than in his previous five years in the Majors, Hanrahan's 1.9 walks allowed per nine innings this season is by far the best mark of his career, eclipsing last year's 3.4 clip.

Though Hanrahan says he has not changed any of his mechanics this season, he thinks he's done a better job repeating his delivery.

"I haven't changed anything since I first got here in Pittsburgh," said Hanrahan, who came to the Pirates in a trade from Washington during the 2009 season. "The delivery has been the same, I've just been more consistent with it."

This is the second time in Hanrahan's career that he's been named a team's Opening Day closer, having held the role briefly with Washington in 2009 before losing it because of poor performance. While Hanranhan said he likes the security of knowing when manager Clint Hurdle will utilize him, he doesn't know if there's a "closer's mentality" that allows him to perform better in the ninth inning.

"There's definitely an adrenalin rush, but you try to do your best to harness the adrenaline and try to stay even-keeled, no matter what's going on," Hanrahan said. "I try not to get too high or too low and just try to be the same guy out there."