The Pittsburgh Pirates have called the National League home for more than a century, but recent interleague results might make them want switch leagues.
“We’ve been really good the last couple years (against the American League),” said manager Clint Hurdle, whose team entered Friday with a 16-4 record at home against AL opponents since 2017. “I think if you’ll track it all the way back, it’s been going on for a while. Any time I’m asked, the players deserve the credit because they’re playing the game.”
But Hurdle also quickly credits his team’s scouts.
“Our advance scouts do a fantastic job,” Hurdle added, “so I think when we’re posting up in front of these people, we don’t feel like we don’t know them.”
The Oakland A’s arrived Friday at PNC Park for the first time five years, and early next week the Texas Rangers will make their first appearance since 2007.
The Pirates defeated the Rangers twice earlier this week in Texas, improving their interleague record to 4-0 this season.
“Some of these teams you don’t see in spring training, (so) this is your first look,” Hurdle said. “You can watch video, and that’s one thing. But the feel, understanding of moves that can be made, the way bullpens are utilized, matchups to expect. Our guys do a really good job painting a very good picture for us.”
Over the last seven seasons, the Pirates are 77-47 against the AL with only one losing interleague record in that span (9-11 in 2016). They own the National League’s best interleague record since 2013. Only the Boston Red Sox (83-40) have a better mark.
Interleague play started in 1997.
“I think there’s an appreciation from everybody of interleague play,” Hurdle said. “You get to see players you don’t normally get to see other than highlights at night.”
After the A’s and the Rangers, the Pirates have interleague series remaining against the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners. As for hypothetically switching leagues or division, Hurdle isn’t interested in that debate.
“We don’t get caught up in the comparative game: ‘Well, if we were in that division or they were in our division,’ ” Hurdle said. “It doesn’t even go there. It used to go there a lot, the narrative outside the clubhouse.”
Francisco Cervelli returned to the lineup Friday, three days after being hit in the left wrist by a pitch. The catcher left Tuesday’s game and sat out Wednesday’s. The Pirates were off Thursday.
Osuna ends rehab
The Pirates reinstated Jose Osuna (neck) from the 10-day injured list and optioned him to Triple-A. The utility infielder played five games for Bradenton and two at Indianapolis during his rehab.
He went 2 for 8 with two runs and an RBI for Indianapolis.
Pirates first baseman Josh Bell entered Friday with a .478 average with runners in scoring position, which ranks third in the majors. He trailed the Red Sox’s Andrew Benintendi (.500) and the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger (.483).