MILWAUKEE -- For someone who was wrapping up nearly a whole week of sitting on the bench, Clint Barmes was a pretty happy man as he paced Miller Park's service level alone late Friday afternoon.Well, alone if you didn't count the bat he'd just put through its paces in the batting cage and had rested on his shoulder. "I'm feeling good and happy with where everything is," Barmes said on his way back to the Pirates' clubhouse "And encouraged by where it can get me. I'm doing the same things I've done in the past, when they worked." Barmes and his .170 average remained on the bench in the opener of the series with the Brewers. Jordy Mercer again started at short, although Josh Harrison was also back in the lineup, stationed in right field against Milwaukee lefty Randy Wolf. Barmes' back-to-basics class, being thought of by Clint Hurdle, is focused on "reconnecting his swing with what he needs to do to square the ball up," the manager said. To Barmes himself, it's all about committing the outside-the-lines work to muscle memory, "where I don't have to think in the game about what I'm doing, can just keep that consistent bat path. I've gotten away from it. It just happens, for whatever reason." "I've fallen into bad habits before," Barmes added, "where you get away from your normal way of things, but it gets compounded when you're with a new team and you look up at the scoreboard and see that average."
The Last Word
"Adversity doesn't build character. It reveals it."
-- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle as Pittsburgh returned to Milwaukee, the scene of 38 losses in the club's last 42 games.
Much is being made of the Pirates' 4-38 record in Miller Park since 2007 entering this series. But the past should not haunt the present club: None of the players who were with the club when that stretch began remain. The only Pittsburgh player on the '07 team still part of the rivalry is Nyjer Morgan -- on the other side. Andrew McCutchen had a fabulous month of May -- batting .360, with an OPS of 1.134 on the strength of eight homers -- but has little chance of bagging his first National League Player of the Month Award. He has stiff competition from Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (.343 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs) and San Francisco's Melky Cabrera (.429 with 51 hits). As a precursor for next week's 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the Bucs' top picks in each of the last two drafts have just been named to the Florida State League All-Star team. Bradenton teammates Gerrit Cole (4-1, 2.47) and Jameson Taillon (3-4, 3.29) share the honor. Between them, the right-handers have 98 strikeouts in 103 innings.
The Bucs have tripled in three consecutive games, and four out of their last five -- but have not hit a home run in eight of their last nine games.
Brad Lincoln was working on a streak of 15 consecutive batters retired until Nyjer Morgan welcomed him in the eighth inning with a double.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.