Coming into the 2013 season, the Pirates had the all-time worst mark in interleague play, with a record of 91-138, dating back to 1997--the first year the AL and NL began to play one another on an annual basis. In fact, Pittsburgh was the only team not to reach triple digits in victories.
A trip to New York, Boston, or even Detroit, Minnesota and Cleveland was often met with less than stellar results. And a trip out West was an even bigger exercise in futility, as your average series against the Angels or A's was way less than competitive.
Of course, this went hand-in-hand with the Pirates, themselves, being way less than competitive for the majority of years since interleague play's inception--for example, the 2010 Pirates (57-105) were 2-13 against the Junior circuit.
However, much like the Pirates, themselves, their level of success in interleague play during the previous two seasons was a bit more respectable, as the team combined to go 18-15 in 2011 and 2012.
The 2013 season has been a watershed one for the Buccos, complete with a winning season and one of the best records in baseball at 84-61. And ironically enough, they may owe a good portion of their lofty status to their stellar play against the American League.
Pittsburgh concluded its 2013 interleague schedule this week by sweeping the Rangers in Arlington, which gave the team a phenomenal final record of 15-5 against the American League. Included in the 15 victories was a total road sweep of the AL West, as the Pirates went 8-0 in Anaheim, Seattle and Arlington.
Let's say the Pirates' record in interleague play this year was more reflective of their previous two seasons, and they were 10-10.
Instead of being only a game back of the Cardinals in the NL Central, Pittsburgh would be six games back, with 17 to play and all but mathematically eliminated. In addition to that, the Pirates would only be three games up on the Nationals and in a dog fight for that second NL Wild Card spot.
Finally, after all these years, interleague baseball has some redeeming qualities.