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Hurdle has mind on NL Central title, not Wild Card

MILWAUKEE -- Major League Baseball's double-Wild-Card-playoff format is in only its second year. But Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has already seen enough.

Last October, in the single-game first round under the new arrangement, he saw the Rangers and Braves go down after 93- and 94-win seasons, respectively.

"Our vision is to win the division," said Hurdle, whose team entered Labor Day action sharing the National League Central lead with St. Louis. "I watched two teams crushed with a one-game Wild Card game. You put in 162 days of hard work, get to play one game, and if you don't play a good game that day, you go to the house.

"That's a hard pill to swallow. A division win gives you more opportunity to show what you've done throughout the season. We are committed to doing some big things, and we feel we are capable of doing them."

Given that commitment, Hurdle has been understandably tactful about answering the growing questions about the Bucs being on the verge of ending a streak of 20-consecutive losing seasons.

"Our goal isn't to just be better than last year [when the Pirates finished 79-83]. Some guys have been here a week," Hurdle said, "some guys have been here a couple of years. This is my third. We haven't been here 20 years. We honor the angst, but we don't want to carry that baggage around."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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