Come up against Bucs, and watch the shift fly

When the Buccos checked into Pirate City in mid-February, the first thing they saw was the “Grit Happens” tee-shirt hanging in everyone’ds locker.

Clint Hurdle has to add another tee-shirt to his line: “Shift Happens.”

The Pirates are binging on that infield shift against left-handed pull hitters, and the strategy is working brilliantly.

On Tuesday, Yamaico Navarro threw out the Phillies’ Jim Thome from the right-field warning track; okay, just kidding, but the second baseman fielded Thome’s smash in serious shallow right and threw him out.

In tonight’s game, Neil Walker was about 185 feet from the plate when he handled Carlos Pena’s first-inning grounder and easily got him at first — then did the exact same thing again in the third. The Pirates also shifted for Luke Scott, but he struck out against Charlie Morton.



The only reason shifts work is because pull hitters take it as a challenge instead of punching the ball past third. Any good hitter should be able to hit to all fields. Alvarez, a definite pull hitter, hit his two home runs to left. If the shift hitters were to go to the opposite field, all shifts would cease in a hurry.

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