PITTSBURGH -- Pirates pitchers are allowing 3.59 runs per game, the fourth-stingiest rate in the National League. But the Bucs took a record of 14-18 into Saturday night's game against the Astros because their hitters ranked dead last with 2.78 runs per game.
So are the pitchers and the hitters at each other's throats by now?
Pittsburgh skipper Clint Hurdle conceded that it was a good question; "I've been in environments where that has happened, and needed to be defused."
The query was also timely, inasmuch as current and former members of the San Diego Padres were busy on Saturday denying that hitters' criticism of Petco Park's dimensions had ignited a tussle with one of their pitchers.
"There is no sense of that being the case here," Hurdle said. "The cohesiveness has been very good. [The pitchers] have been very professional. They understand and see the effort -- and the frustration -- of the hitters. They're all confident that we will pull through it.
"The pitchers know there have been days, and there will be others, when they've struggled but everyone continued to play hard behind them to get outs."
That is almost verbatim how James McDonald shrugged off his tough 1-0 loss in Friday night's series opener with the Astros.
"It's part of the game. I've been the guy on the mound, getting shelled, and the guys behind me still believed in me and played hard behind me."