Pirates used to playing tight ballgames

Pirates used to playing tight ballgames

NEW YORK -- For all that's been made of the Pirates' tendency to be involved in one-run games this season, manager Clint Hurdle wants to be clear: it really isn't anything new.

Pittsburgh has a 14-11 record in those close games so far, meaning nearly half of their 52 contests are decided by a single run. The team also played in 52 such games last year and 57 in 2012. Hurdle's first year on the Pittsburgh bench in '11 featured 43 one-run decisions.

Hurdle and his staff use it to illustrate a common teaching point.

"What we've done is we've taken this and packaged it in a different presentation to our club," Hurdle said. "The fact that this is who we are, these are the games we're going to play, so every pitch counts, every pitch matters. We can't take pitches off. The execution's got to be there. The focus has got to be acute.

"You're going to have fun and all that, but just let them know, we can't take pitches off in anything we do. This is the way we're built."

This season in particular, one-run games have been something of a bright spot for the Bucs. At 23-29, the team is six games under .500 overall, but it is three over .500 in the tightest games. Across the four seasons, the Pirates own a 92-85 record in one-run games.

"We're not uncomfortable playing the games," Hurdle said. "We kind of expect the games to go that way."

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.