ARLINGTON, Texas -- Unlike past seasons, the Pirates will be able to look fondly on their experience in interleague play this season.
After their 7-5 win Wednesday against the Texas Rangers, the Pirates led the majors with 15 wins against interleague opponents, including a 9-1 mark on the road. They won their final nine road games against American League teams, sweeping series against the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels and, now, the Rangers.
In the past six seasons, the Pirates went 9-36 in American League ballparks.
"The style of play is a lot different," Pirates infielder Josh Harrison said. "In the National League, we know we can be used at any point. In the American League, it's a little different because the DH comes into play."
AL teams usually have the advantage in their home parks because they were built with the designated hitter in mind. Some teams spend millions for an extra bat while the National League teams mostly insert a player who usually wouldn't see much action.
But the Pirates managed to fire up their offense against AL foes this year. Their .253 batting average in interleague play was more than 10 points higher than their season average. Their pitching was even more effective, limiting opposing batters to a .196 average while posting a 2.08 ERA.
Such statistics will make any team successful against any opponent.
Improving the team's interleague road record was a point of emphasis for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle when he was hired, and he is as pleased as anybody that the Pirates will finish the year without dropping a series in an AL ballpark.
"That's good," he said. "That's strong. The team's we've played as well, to come in and have to finish up with these guys, the second week in September, that's no easy draw. But I'm proud of our guys."
The Rangers are the final AL opponent the Pirates will face this season.
That is, of course, unless the Pirates make it to the World Series. Then, this success against AL opponents might come in handy.
A good, misleading statistic
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen finished with 27 hits in interleague play, eclipsing the club record of 25 set by Freddy Sanchez in 2006.
Part of that is due to a new Major League Baseball division alignment that requires clubs to play more interleague games than before. McCutchen played in 18 interleague games while Sanchez played in 14 that season.
But McCutchen, who had a day off Wednesday, had a pretty good season against the AL, hitting .375 with seven doubles, one triple, two homers and 11 RBIs.
Morton says he's ready
Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton, who left his previous start early with an injury to his plantar fascia in his left foot, said he felt good after a scheduled side session Wednesday afternoon and anticipates making his scheduled start Friday.
Marte making progress
Starling Marte (right hand contusion), who took batting practice Tuesday for the first time since being injured, saw his first action in the field Wednesday, inserted in left as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning. It was his first action in a non-pinch-running situation since Aug. 18.pirates
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published September 12, 2013 4:45 AM