Try for the Sweep

The Pirates have a better record at the 81-game mark in 2012 than they did at the same point in time in 1992. They are nine games above .500 for the first time since the last day of the 1992 season, and they can be 13 games above .500 if they can finish the sweep of the Astros and sweep the Giants.

Looking forward to keeping the Pirates in first place will be Jeff Karstens. Karstens will be making his third start since returning from the disabled list on June 25th. Last time out, Karstens returned to first-half 2011 form, going seven and allowing just two earned runs on four hits and walked two. He also struck out seven batters, the most since August 10th, 2011, when he struck out nine in a win against the Giants. In one home start this year, Karstens threw six innings and gave up just one earned run on five hits and a walk. Karstens has started seven games against the Astros in his career with a 3.33 ERA over 46 innings.

Here’s the current Astros statistics against Karstens:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG
Chris Johnson 9 9 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Wandy Rodriguez 5 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Matt Downs 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jason Castro 3 3 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 0 0
J.A. Happ 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Bud Norris 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Snyder 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Brian Bogusevic 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Brett Myers 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jordan Schafer 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 31 30 5 0 0 0 1 0 8 .167 .167 .167 .333 1 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/5/2012.

The Houston Astros will give the ball to Bud Norris. Norris has started 14 games this season, having an ERA of 4.90 and a 1.42 WHIP. He struggled in his last start against the Cubs, allowing four earned runs over the course of six innings on seven hits and a walk. In his last start against the Pirates on May 11th, Norris tossed six scoreless innings, striking out eight batters and allowing just three hits. In fact, he has performed pretty well against the Pirates throughout his career, having a 3.60 ERA in nine starts. A saving grace is that Norris hasn’t performed quite as well at PNC Park, starting five games here and allowing 4.30 earned runs per nine.

The Pirates’ stats against Norris:

Andrew McCutchen 29 28 7 2 1 0 4 1 8 .250 .276 .393 .669 0 0 0 0 0
Garrett Jones 27 24 6 2 0 1 4 3 6 .250 .333 .458 .792 0 0 1 0 0
Neil Walker 23 20 8 0 0 1 1 3 4 .400 .478 .550 1.028 0 0 0 0 0
Pedro Alvarez 11 11 2 1 0 1 3 0 8 .182 .182 .545 .727 0 0 0 0 0
Casey McGehee 11 11 3 1 0 0 0 0 7 .273 .273 .364 .636 0 0 0 0 0
Michael McKenry 9 9 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 .556 .556 .667 1.222 0 0 0 0 0
Alex Presley 8 7 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .143 .250 .143 .393 0 0 0 0 0
Rod Barajas 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0 0 0
Jeff Karstens 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Clint Barmes 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Kevin Correia 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
James McDonald 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Drew Sutton 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Total 134 124 34 8 1 3 12 9 40 .274 .323 .427 .751 1 0 1 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/5/2012.
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