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Pirates wrap up stretch packed with lefties

Pirates wrap up stretch packed with lefties

Pirates wrap up stretch packed with lefties
PHOENIX -- With Monday night's tussle against Arizona's Joe Saunders, the Pirates finally came to the end of the lefty line. For the next week, at least, they will be returning to a diet of right-handers.

We are always being told by surveys that the share of left-handers in the human population never varies far from 10 percent. You can't convince the Bucs of that. If it seems that the Bucs have been facing southpaws every other day, you're absolutely right.

Through Tuesday night's meeting with Arizona right-hander Ian Kennedy, the Pirates have literally been going right-left-right, etc., since Opening Day. The pattern actually reverts to Spring Training, when they opposed left-handed starters in half of their Grapefruit League games.

"It is unusual," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "Not many years ago, you'd go a week, 10 days without seeing a single lefty."

Hurdle was going on experience, but the game's demographics support his perception.

Through Monday, of the 81 National League starters with qualifying stats (an inning pitched for each of their team's games) 25 were lefty, a percentage of 31.

In 2005, that percentage was 25 (17 of 68), and in 2000, it was about the same (17 of 65, 26 percent).

Seeing a string of right-handers going forward won't have any great team-wide benefit as the Pirates try for some offensive momentum, Hurdle said. But the continuity could jolt a player who had been regularly benched with a left-hander on the mound.

"In [Pedro] Alvarez's case, it could be an opportunity to get rolling," Hurdle said.

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