I’ve been saying this ad nauseum for a month or so now, but the best way for the Pirates to keep themselves in this playoff race is going to be for them to beat up on teams that they’re better than. They are definitely better than the Astros, and I don’t think there’s even much room for debate over that. The ‘Stros are playing a brutal brand of baseball right now that’s chock full of mental errors and physical errors and all around badness. I normally wouldn’t say that it’s important to finish off a four-game sweep, but the reality is that the Astros just aren’t a team the Pirates should be losing to.
That being said, Bud Norris is not the best matchup for the Pirates’ offense with his big strikeout totals, though he is a bit home-run-prone. I don’t need to tell you what the Pirates have been doing to homer-prone pitchers lately. As usual, if the Pirates can make Norris throw some pitches, work him deep into the count, and maybe take some walks, the might be able to play Earl Weaver ball against Norris even if he whiffs ten guys in six innings. Jeff Karstens goes for the Bucs tonight. His first start back from the DL was pretty tough to watch, but his last start against the Cardinals was quite good, so hopefully he’ll build on that tonight. The Astros no longer have Carlos Lee, who was traded to the Marlins during yesterday’s game.
The Pirates made some roster moves of their own today with Alex Presley going on the 7-day concussion DL and Jordy Mercer being called up to take his spot. That leaves the Pirates rather amusingly short on natural outfielders, with McCutchen, Hernandez, and arguably Garrett Jones being the only ones on the roster for now. Starling Marte’s impending arrival should fix that.
First pitch tonight is at 7:05.