McCutchen discusses 2013 campaign, possible awards

ARLINGTON -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has a plan, and a disciplined commitment to sticking it. He proved it on Wednesday by resting Andrew McCutchen, because it was the center fielder's turn to get a blow.

"He's getting a day. [Justin] Morneau got one [on Tuesday]. We try to plan it out," Hurdle said, "to give guys a blow here and there, then we'll run the gauntlet the rest of the way."

It must have been really difficult for Hurdle to stick to his plan and have McCutchen sit out the Pirates' final Interleague game of 2013, given how he has lit up American League pitchers -- particularly those from the American League West.

Going 5-for-9 in the first two games of this series hiked McCutchen's 2013 Interleague batting average to .375 (27-for-72). The 27 hits are a club record for Interleague Play, topping Freddy Sanchez's 25 in 2006.

Within that big picture, McCutchen has punished AL West pitchers at a 24-for-57 (.421) rate.

There was another reason, Hurdle joked, for giving McCutchen his first day off since June 3.

"Haven't you heard? There's going to be a record high today," Hurdle said before the 1:05 p.m. CT first pitch in Rangers Ballpark. "One-hundred-seventy-five degrees."

Who better to insert in those oven-like conditions than a Pie (Felix Pie, who started in center)?

Pie walked, stole his first base since 2011 and scored on Neil Walker's single in the third inning of the Pirates' 7-5 win.

Worth noting

• The Pirates will make a determination on whether Charlie Morton [left foot plantar fasciitis] will be able to make his scheduled Friday night start based on how the right-hander's bullpen session went prior to Wednesday's game.

Morton said after the session he "plans on taking the ball" on Friday, but the team had yet to make an announcement.

Jordy Mercer sat out Wednesday's game with a post-All Star Game break average of .310 (39-for-126), third best on the Pirates behind McCutchen (.371) and Gaby Sanchez (.320).

• The Bucs entered Wednesday's game with a 4-4 record on this road trip -- and Hurdle entered it with a 234-234 record as the team's skipper.

They pushed both marks above .500 with a 7-5 win.

First number, last word

22-10: Pirates' record in four-game series during the 2013 season, reflecting six series wins and two splits. The Bucs will wrap up the home portion of their regular season with four-game series against the Cubs and the Padres, beginning Thursday night.

"Chicken wire, duct tape and spit -- and our next-man-up mentality." -- Hurdle, on how the Pirates have managed to stay the pitching course with all but one of their starters (Jeff Locke ) shelved by injury at one time or another.