Pirates Welcome New, Old Foes
By John E. Sacco
In the six seasons of interleague play, the Pirates have not been one of the stellar performers.
After winning just three of 12 games versus American League competition last year, the Pirates' overall mark in interleague play slipped to 37-48.
But that could change this season.
With the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Devil Rays on the schedule, along with the renewal of its rivalry with the Cleveland Indians, the Pirates have a chance to make up some ground against the American League this year.
A season ago, the Pirates were swept at PNC Park by the Oakland A's and Texas Rangers and dropped two of three to eventual World Series champion Anaheim. The Pirates' lone interleague bright spot in 2002 was winning two of three from the woeful Detroit Tigers.
Interleague play this season also brings the Pirates and Boston Red Sox together for the first time. The franchises last met in the 1903 World Series—when Boston was known as the Pilgrims. The Pirates, after taking a three-games-to-one lead, dropped four straight and lost the Series.
The Red Sox are first up for the Pirates in interleague action this season, visiting PNC Park June 3-5.
Having the chance to watch the Red Sox will be a rare treat for Pirates' fans. While they've seen Pedro Martinez pitch in the past, Pirates fans will welcome the likes of shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and pitcher Derek Lowe while being reacquainted with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, a star of the Pirates' last winning team in 1992.
The Pirates immediately follow that with a road trip that features three games in Toronto's SkyDome (June 10-12) and three in Tampa Bay (13-15).
Interleague play will reach its climax June 20-22 when the Indians invade PNC Park. The last time the teams hooked up was two years ago when the Pirates completed a three-game sweep. That helped Pittsburgh to its only winning interleague season in six years.