Hanrahan stepping up for Pittsburgh

Updated: May 28, 2011, 10:51 AM ET
By Buster Olney

Just moments after Alfonso Soriano drove a ball into the left-field stands at Wrigley Field on Friday to cut the Pittsburgh Pirates' lead in half in the ninth inning, Joel Hanrahan was summoned to the mound.

There was no strutting from Hanrahan between pitches, no preening, no wasted emotion; he went about the business of attacking the strike zone in the way that a postal worker sorts mail. Fastball here, breaking ball there, another fastball. Minimal drama, maximum efficiency.

Hanrahan has pitched this way all season, after spending the offseason focusing on precision. He played catch with LaTroy Hawkins in his offseason workouts and his goal, from day to day, was to hit the same target: Low and away for right-handed hitters. Glove side for a right-handed pitcher like Hanrahan.

He has been told repeatedly, he said on Friday evening, "that I need to control that pitch -- down and away."