Monday windup: Sticking to a winning formula

It’s not exactly painting-by-the-numbers, but the Pirates are perfectly sticking to a time-honored formula for becoming a champion:

.500 + .667 = X

Translation: Go .500 on the road, win two-out-of-three at home, get to play untold number of more games in October.

Entering tonight’s opener of a four-game series in Miami, the Bucs are .517 [30-28] on the road — an impressive recovery from an 8-13 start. And they have played .688 [44-20] ball in their PNC Park fortress.

Of course, we still don’t know the value of “X.” Another Wild Card game? Or jump right into the best-of-five National League Division Series as Central champs? … 

Actually, Clint Hurdle does have a problem. He says having too many good players — as he now does with the returns of Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer — is a blessing, not a problem. He means that from that standpoint of having many choices, none of which would be wrong.

However, the problem is: How do you keep everyone sharp? This is a game that feeds on reps, the key to timing. You can ration playing time, but not rhythm and flow. It will be a challenge. … 

I’ll say it again: Trades of players out of cities that embraced them continue to be a boon to a newspaper industry leaking red from advertising revenue. Chase Utley made his own contribution, taking out appreciative full-page ads in both Philadelphia players following his deal to the Dodgers. … 

Francisco Liriano in his last five starts: 4.67 ERA. His and the Bucs’ records in those starts: 3-0 and 5-0, respectively. File this under “things even out.”

Last season, Liriano had the third worst run support among NL starters at 3.16 runs per game. This season, his 5.26 runs per game is the fifth best. … 

In 2014, the Bucs muscled a total of 62 homers out of PNC Park. They’ve already left the park 59 times this season, with 17 home games remaining. … 

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