Pirates Notebook: Hanrahan responds to fans
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ST. LOUIS -- After walking Carlos Beltran with a one-run lead and one out in the ninth inning Friday night, closer Joel Hanrahan reminisced briefly as David Freese walked to the plate.
"He's in a hot streak right now, and the fans here love him," Hanrahan said. "He got a huge ovation when they called his name. I'm not going to lie, it made me think about the World Series. When they started cheering, I was like 'They must be cheering because they've seen this situation before.'"
Freese, the Cardinals' third baseman, was named the 2011 World Series MVP after his late-game heroics sparked St. Louis to a championship. With the Cardinals trailing by two runs with two outs in the ninth of an elimination game against the Texas Rangers, Freese hit a two-run triple to send the game into extra innings. There, he hit a walk-off home run to extend the series.
So, Hanrahan thought, "I'm just going to go out there and not give them something to cheer about," he said.
Hanrahan continued his success against the heart of teams' orders Friday by shutting down Freese and the Cardinals. Against teams' three through six batters this season, such batters have managed a .156 average against Hanrahan.
He said his saves don't mean anything more when they come against a team's best hitters, but it gets his heart rate going.
"Facing the heart of the order here in St. Louis -- they've got great fans here, so they definitely had their back," he said. "That kind of pumps you up a little bit on the other side of it."
Freese, who entered that at-bat with a .302 average, had a chance to spark the Cardinals to a victory against a team they are chasing for a wild-card spot.
At first, Hanrahan tried to get Freese to ground into a game-ending double play. He fed Freese a couple low fastballs, trying to induce a ground ball. And once he worked into a two-strike count, he went for the kill with a slider out of the zone. Freese chased it for Hanrahan's 55th strikeout, six shy of his 2011 total.
Hanrahan leads the National League with 34 saves and is second in the majors for most saves since the start of the '11 season with 74, trailing Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel (77).
Pirates first-base coach Luis Silverio said the biggest thing he remembers about Roberto Clemente's career is not what he did on the field. It's what he did off it.
Clemente, who died in a plane crash in 1972 while en route to deliver humanitarian aid, would have turned 78 Saturday.
"That is definitely one name that we miss -- the way it happened is such a sad story," said Silverio, who followed Clemente as a child in the Dominican Republic. "But it tells you what kind of heart this man had."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle spent some time Saturday catching up with his former boss, ex-Kansas City Royals and Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog.
"He's the one manager that I went to at the end of the year and just said 'I'm sorry I didn't do better,' " Hurdle said.
As Hurdle remembers, Herzog brushed off the comment.
"He was like, 'Eh, Clint, don't worry about it,'" He said. "Same thing I tell guys. 'You were prepared, you were focused. Some days, you played better than others. Don't worry about it.' "
Herzog dropped in the Pirates clubhouse Saturday to see Hurdle and other members of the Pirates' coaching staff. He said he doesn't specifically recall Hurdle's mea culpa.
"He probably said it," Herzog said. "I love that guy."
First Published August 19, 2012 12:59 am