Timely hits? It’s time.

The other day, Clint Hurdle was talking about the Father’s Day morning gift exchange at his house, and casually mentioned that a house-guest had been part of the celebration.

Someone then drew laughs by asking what the guess had been exchanged for.

And Hurdle drew even bigger laughs by answering the guest had been exchanged “for two-out RBIs.”

If only it were that easy.

I’m often asked why these ’13 Pirates could have better pennant-race staying power than the 2011-12 versions, and my answer usually has to do with more experience, the presence of more race-savvy veterans, greater depth.

Too complicated. Next time, I might just say: “Look how tight have stayed doing it just with smoke and mirrors. Wait till the bats show up.”

The most remarkable thing about the Bucs being only four games behind St. Louis, with the Majors’ fifth-best record, is how few clutch hits it has taken.

The Pirates are hitting .209 with two outs and men in scoring position — compared to the Cardinals’ .336. Yet own only four fewer wins. 

A classic cup half-empty or half-full proposition. “They can’t get a key hit” or “They’re due to bust out, then look out above.”

One conclusion that could be drawn from the getting-the-most-out-of-the-least first 10 weeks is that pitching stability has carried the team. And, of course, that would be wrong, since the Pirates have averaged more than one starter for those 10 weeks.

All those things going wrong, and it has still come out right. Should be a good sign, no?

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