'Effortless power' leading to uptick in homers

'Effortless power' leading to uptick in homers

ST. LOUIS -- Take a look at the Pirates' team batting stats this season and you'll notice there isn't much to write home about. Entering Saturday, Pittsburgh's 76 homers ranked 15th, and their 286 runs scored were 28th in the Majors.

However, if you consider when those homers were hit and when those runs have crossed the plate, that's when things get interesting.

With Pedro Alvarez's first-inning grand slam in Saturday's 7-3 win over the Cardinals, the Pirates hit a National League-leading 39 homers this month, and trail only the Yankees and the Blue Jays for the most in the Majors. It's the most homers in June since the 1999 club homered 38 times. The Pirates also tied the club record for homers in June, a number that stood since 1975.

They also lead the Majors with 146 runs this month -- the highest run total the Pirates have scored in a month since plating 148 in May 2008.

"You look now and spread it over three months, it all makes a little sense," manager Clint Hurdle said of his club's power surge. "You package into one month, you go, 'Woah.' But the two month's drought before, that makes you go 'woah' as well. So I think for me, it was going to come. I believed it would come. It's come this month. It's come hard. It's come heavy."

The Pirates scored 147 runs in their first 50 games. And while the club's power this month has been eye-opening, Hurdle called how few runs they scored early in the season "astronomical" as well.

Pittsburgh homered four times in a 14-5 win over St. Louis on Friday, including three in the sixth inning. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen added his 15th of the season in the ninth. McCutchen has hit all 15 of his homers since May 8, and his 26 RBIs in June rank second in NL.

McCutchen said he and his teammates haven't been doing anything differently. Things are just starting to fall into place.

"It's starting to click for guys, and guys are putting good swings on good balls, starting to score a lot more runs," McCutchen said. "It's good to see what we're capable of doing day in and day out. Just being patient and staying within ourselves and not trying to do too much."

Hurdle has noticed his team is more confident these days, and his players are feeding off each other.

"Right now the hitting part of is kind of contagious and the power has become kind of contagious," Hurdle said. 'If you'll talk to these guys right now, the beauty for me is to watch the swings they're taking to hit home runs. Right now, you're seeing effortless power, before you were seeing powerless effort."