Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Monday will return to Texas, where he spent the 2010 season as the Rangers' hitting coach in their first World Series appearance. The Rangers lost to the Giants in five games, and Hurdle became the Pirates' skipper the following season.
"We are basically where they were in '10," Hurdle said of the Rangers. "That's when they got over the hump, and they've built on it ever since."
Hurdle has the Pirates in position for their first postseason appearance since 1992 as they prepare for a rare three-game Interleague series between two teams jockeying for playoff position.
"It's not a major issue -- just different, never had to do it before," Hurdle said. "With the new structure of the game -- different challenge. It's a new team, a team we don't see much of. It's more than a pop quiz, it's cramming for exam, because the games at this point are very meaningful."
The Pirates are 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central. The Pirates hold the top Wild Card spot in the NL, however, just like the Rangers in the American League. Texas trails Oakland by 1 1/2 games in the AL West. The Rangers and the Pirates are just 2-5 this month. Texas has lost three straight series, to the Twins, A's and Angels. The Pirates were swept by the Cardinals to drop their fourth straight game.
"They're pretty much in the same situation as we are," Hurdle said. "I have a lot of respect for what they've done, but we also respect what we've done. "I'm not going to walk in there like, 'Look at what we've done.' That's not the way I work. I'm a small part of what's going on."
Gerrit Cole and Yu Darvish will make their first career starts against the Rangers and Pirates, respectively. Cole allowed two runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Brewers on Tuesday, but it helped produce one of the Pirates' two wins this month. The rest of the rotation has pitched 12 2/3 total innings since Cole's start, including Charlie Morton's injury-shortened outing Sunday.
Darvish went 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA in six August starts, but he tied for his shortest outing this season Wednesday against the A's. He lasted just five innings, allowing five runs on five hits and matching a career high with six walks.
"No one has any right to judge how I pitch," Darvish said through an interpreter. "I know I have been pitching my best performance, and I don't think anyone has any right to judge how I do or how I pitch."
It was the first time Darvish lost consecutive starts this season. He has gone 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in his last four starts to raise his ERA from 2.64 to 2.91. Darvish is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in five career Interleague starts.
"There's some days that mechanics are off, but we're in September," Darvish said. "Everyone's tired, including myself. You just have to make the best adjustments possible to get ready for the next game."
Rangers: Feliz solid in return
Neftali Feliz has not allowed a run in three outings this season. He returned from Tommy John surgery to pitch 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He threw a scoreless inning in Saturday's loss against the Angels.
Pirates: Morton leaves with foot injury
Charlie Morton left his start Sunday against the Cardinals in the second inning with a left foot injury. He went just 1 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on six hits.
• The Pirates need just one win to guarantee their first winning season since 1992.
• The Rangers are 10-2 against the Pirates all-time and won the last six meetings.
• The Pirates are 12-5 in Interleague Play this season. They are tied with the Tigers for the second-best Interleague record in the Majors behind the Red Sox (13-5).
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.