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Game 47: Pirates @ Rangers 05.27.16

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
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"Pirates-Rangers Preview
Pittsburgh
Pirates
27-19
8:05 PM ET
Line: TEX -146
Texas
Rangers
27-20
PIT: Niese (4-2 , 4.75 ERA) TEX: Hamels (5-0 , 2.83 ERA)
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5:49 PM ET
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While Jeff Banister admits it will be emotional for him to face the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time, his mentor Clint Hurdle is trying to make it seem as business as usual this weekend.
The managers will be in the spotlight for Friday night's three-game series opener between Banister's Texas Rangers and Hurdle's Pirates in which Texas starter Cole Hamels seeks to remain perfect in Arlington with his 13th straight regular-season victory.
Banister played for the Pirates in 1991 with a hit in his only big-league at-bat and served with the organization in a variety of roles since retiring. He was Hurdle's bench coach between 2011-14 after Hurdle beat him out for the job as Pittsburgh manager and was hired by Texas (27-20) before last season.
"Twenty-nine years of my life," Banister told MLB's official website. "That's how long I wore that uniform. I love the organization. I love everything it stands for. There are a lot of ties."
Banister's first season with the Rangers was a success as he won 88 games and the AL West title, earning AL manager of the year honors. He credited Hurdle, who attended the award ceremony, for much of his success.
Now that the clubs are playing, Hurdle is focusing more on the field than on who is in the opposing dugout although he did say he's "proud" of Banister.
"It's not going to be a kumbaya," Hurdle said. "That was done over the winter, when I was fortunate enough to go out there and share in his award presentation for manager of the year. We're going in to play baseball, with a focus to beat the Rangers. There won't be lunch or breakfast, none of that."
One edge for Banister is that he begins the series with Hamels, who is 12-0 with a 2.99 ERA in his last 18 regular-season starts. Hamels (5-0, 2.83 ERA) has tied Bobby Witt's club record for consecutive wins.
In addition, the left-hander is 7-0 with a 3.87 ERA in 13 career outings in Arlington including one victory over the Rangers. He can match Barry Zito as the only other pitcher to begin 8-0 at Globe Life Park.
Hamels gave up two runs in eight innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts in Sunday's 9-2 rout at Houston.
He's 3-2 with a 2.43 ERA in nine starts against Pittsburgh. Andrew McCutchen is 7 for 24 with a homer in this matchup.
Hamels will have a red-hot hitter in the lineup to support him in Nomar Mazara, who has four homers in his last seven games and went deep for the second straight contest in Wednesday's 15-9 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
It's unlikely that Rougned Odor will play since a decision is expected before Friday's game on the second baseman's appeal of an eight-game suspension for punching Toronto's Jose Bautista during a May 15 brawl.
Rangers outfielder Ian Desmond is hitting .385 with 15 RBI in his last 18 games. Desmond has the most at-bats among Texas hitters against Pirates starter Jonathon Niese, going 8 for 29.
Niese (4-2, 4.75) allowed one run in seven innings in a no-decision in Saturday's 5-1 loss to Colorado. The left-hander is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts against the Rangers.
Pittsburgh (27-19) has won four straight and nine of 11. Gregory Polanco went 7 for 13 with six RBI in a three-game sweep of Arizona capped by Thursday's 8-3 win."

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