New pitchers take time to learn their surroundings

By John Mehno

For the Mirror

PITTSBURGH — The Pirates added two pitchers from outside the organization at the trading deadline — starter Chris Archer and reliever Keone Kela.

When a new pitcher comes to the team, that involves an in depth conversation so the coaching staff can get to know him.

That’s a process Archer and Kela have gone through over the past couple of weeks.

“When you get players over here, you have them tell you their story,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

The players do interviews with the media, but they participate in a different kind of question-and-answer session with Hurdle and pitching coaches Ray Searage and Justin Meccage and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas.

What do they want to know? Everything, said Hurdle.

“What kind of pitcher were you when you came up? What kind of pitcher did you grow into? What were you doing when you thought you were most effective? Where do you think you are now? If something has changed, why?”

They take the feedback, watch the pitcher work in games and on the sidelines and try to get a handle on how to proceed.

That’s especially been the case with Archer, who has been so-so in his three starts with the Pirates. He starts Monday against Atlanta.

“He felt very confident on re-visiting some things that he felt he was really good at at one point in time,” Hurdle said.

Hurdle said Archer used a four-pitch mix in his most recent start, adding a curveball and change-up to his usual repertoire of two kinds of fastball and a slider.

“It’s about how he can best put himself in a position to be the best pitcher he can be here in moving forward with his career,” Hurdle said.

Kuhl update

Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl played catch in the outfield Saturday afternoon.

Kuhl went on the disabled list on June 26 with a right forearm strain.

The Pirates are hopeful Kuhl will be able to pitch again before the end of the season.

Been a while

Adam Frazier’s second-inning double drove in a run Saturday night and guaranteed the Pirates would not be shut out for a third consecutive game.

Their back-to-back 1-0 losses in the first two games of the series against the Cubs marked the first time since 1985 that they’d lost consecutive 1-0 games.

It happened that season on May 9 and 10 in two different cities. They lost the first game in San Diego to Mark Thurmond, who pitched a three-hit complete game.

The next night in Los Angeles, Jerry Reuss, Tom Niedenfuer and Steve Howe combined on a five-hitter to beat the Pirates 1-0.

Reuss pitched eight-plus innings, Niedenfuer gave up a hit to Bill Madlock, and Howe struck out Johnny Ray to end the game.

The 1985 Pirates lost 104 games, and were 22-59 on the road for a .272 winning percentage. The last time the Pirates lost consecutive 1-0 games at home was on Sept. 12, 1969. They lost both games in a doubleheader against the New York Mets.

In each game, the only run was driven in by the Mets’ starting pitcher — Jerry Koosman hit an RBI single off Bob Moose in the opener, and Don Cardwell hit a run-scoring single off Dock Ellis in the second inning of the second game.

Special day

Saturday was the 84th anniversary of Roberto Clemente’s birth.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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