CLEVELAND -- While Cleveland may not be the most exciting travel destination, the Pirates are excited to be there, simply because it has to be more welcoming than their previous stop on this road trip.
It is everybody's hope that at the end of the season, the 0-3 and 13-27 (runs scored) stay in Baltimore will be recalled as its low point. In just three days, the Orioles doubled the Bucs' season run differential.
"New game, new series," declared manager Clint Hurdle. "We did not play better than the Baltimore Orioles in any of the three games, so it was time to go. Move on."
Hurdle was quick to cite the offending trifecta -- pitching, hitting, defense -- but clearly the biggest culprit in the Pirates' first three-game losing streak in two months was the pitching. Until Baltimore, merely managing 10 hits guaranteed success -- 13 out of 13 times to be exact. Against the Orioles, the Bucs lost twice while hitting double figures in hits.
"We look forward to getting this thing back in the right direction," Hurdle said. "We live for today. We take care of today. I don't think anybody out there [in the clubhouse] is carrying any baggage from Baltimore. That's not how we do things."
Merchants in Cleveland will be happy to hear that because, without any baggage, everyone in the Pirates' traveling party will have to shop for new wardrobes. In the manner of that old baseball saying, they'll be on the lookout for hitting clothes.
Cole promoted to Double-A Altoona
CLEVELAND -- Gerrit Cole is on the move. He is still a ways from Pittsburgh, but at least he is in Pennsylvania.
The Pirates' and the nation's top pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft was bumped up Friday from Class A Bradenton to Altoona, where he will make his Double-A debut on Wednesday.
Cole, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect and No. 8 overall prospect according to MLB.com, has pretty much aced his first professional test: Thursday night's start of five shutout innings, lowering his ERA with the Marauders to 2.55, fourth-lowest in the Florida State League.
With his 69 strikeouts in 67 innings, Cole was also third in the league with a strikeout rate of 9.27 per nine innings.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle got enough of a Spring Training look at the prized righty to understand the quick promotion.
"He's a young man who is highly motivated and highly skilled," Hurdle said. "He was probably in a league where he didn't get many punches thrown back. When you get to a place where you're continually better, you want to make sure you can rise to a level that is more challenging. I think that's what we've done."
Thursday night's win over Fort Myers was Cole's fifth of the season in six decisions.
Fellow right-hander Jameson Taillon, the Pirates' top prospect and No. 5 overall, is 3-6 in 13 starts with an ERA of 4.52. Taillon, the Pirates' first-round pick in 2010, was having a comparably solid season until being lit up for 20 runs in 19 1/3 innings in his last four starts.
The last word
"We take care of today. Tomorrow's done ... no, wait -- yesterday's done. Tomorrow -- we don't know what's going to happen."
-- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, tripping over one of his homilies
• Including his three losses by shutout, James McDonald is 0-3 with a 2.06 ERA in the seven starts in which he has been supported by either zero runs or one.
• Pirates batters were 0-for-6 with men in scoring position on Friday and have gone 6-for-41 (.146) in those situations in their last five games.
• Pittsburgh's 15 wins over the Indians are its most against any Interleague foe. However, Friday's loss dropped the Pirates' record against Cleveland to 15-16. • Pitching renaissance? You bet: McDonald took an ERA of 2.39 into Friday night's game against the Indians -- "only" the eighth-best in the National League. A figure of 2.39 would have ranked first or second in the NL in 13 of the last 14 seasons.
• Jeff Karstens (hip flexor) is still scheduled to throw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Saturday. Barring setbacks, his next step would be a rehab outing, on Tuesday.
• Right-hander Daniel McCutchen (strained left oblique) had his first rehab outing on Thursday with Bradenton, blanking Fort Myers for two innings on one hit.
• Joel Hanrahan's next strikeout will be career No. 400. The closer went into Friday's schedule with 399 whiffs in 362 2/3 Major League innings.
• The Pirates on Friday made official the signing of outfielder Barrett Barnes, upon the supplemental 2012 First-Year Player Draft supplemental pick's passage of a physical. The junior from Texas Tech, the overall No. 45 selection earlier this month, has been assigned to the State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League.
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.