PITTSBURGH -- Before the start of the season, Clint Hurdle tried to project how many victories would get the Pirates into the playoffs and came up with a safe number: 95.
Why safe? Since the three-division Wild Card setup, a total of 71 teams have won 95-plus games, and 83 percent of them (59) appeared in the postseason.
"That's a big number, and I still believe in that 100 percent," Hurdle repeated Friday afternoon -- from a considerably different vantage point.
The Pirates had knocked off one-third of their season before taking the field against the Reds, and with a record of 34-20, they were on pace for -- are you ready? -- 102 wins. To baseball people, "pace" is a four-letter word. Nevertheless, Hurdle thinks his club can even pick up the pace.
"Not on the bullpen side, obviously, but there's more there, out of the starting rotation and the offense," the manager said. "Defensively we've played well, and we've run the bases extremely well, getting the extra 90s and dirt-ball reads."
Translating Hurdle-ese: Taking extra bases on hits and getting good jumps on pitches that elude the catcher.
"If we get 95 wins, we'll be in the playoffs," Hurdle repeated.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.