Pittsburgh is four games over .500 this late in the year since 1992. I don’t care what happens the rest of the way. This is a triumph. This is better than I expected. Granted, my expectations were low. I thought a twelve game improvement versus 2010 would be a good bump up. It would be nice to think this team will contend this year. I don’t pretend to be optimistic that Pittsburgh will be playing meaningful contests come September. But I’m reminded of Willie Stargell’s quote: “I love September, especially when we are in it.” If this team can be four games over .500 on July 5, then maybe – just maybe – September won’t belong to the Steelers.
This game played out like many others. Good pitching and just enough offense to get by. Jeff Karsten pitched into the seventh inning. Brandon Wood homered and drove in three runs as the Pirates beat Houston and Wandy Rodriguez 5-1.
Wood commenced the scoring in the second. Lyle Overbay singled with one out and Wood knocked a pitch from Rodriguez over the fence in right. Wood was playing in place of Josh Harrison who was given an extra day of rest after being pulled from yesterday’s game with dizziness caused by a collision at home plate.
Wood came through in his second time up, as well. Neil Walker doubled and Wood singled him home with two away in the fourth to make it 3-0 Bucs. Houston’s lone run came in the form of a solo tater from Clint Barmes in the fifth.
The Pirates added a pair in the sixth. Walker and Overbay singled. Wood walked to load the bases. Michael McKenry fly ball scored one run and Karstens dropped a perfect bunt to get Overbay to the dish, making it 5-1.
Karstens started the eighth inning but was pulled after giving up a lead off single to Angel Sanchez. Tony Watson’s lone batter – Michael Bourn – also singled. Watson was removed and Jose Veras was called on. He smothered the potential rally with a ground ball out, a whiff and another ground ball out. Chris Resop tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to finish it.
Karstens went seven plus and allowed the one run on seven hits and no walks. He struck out three. Rodriguez was the loser. He gave up eight hits and two walks in six innings. He was charged with all five Pirate tallies. He struck out six.
Karstens, Karstens, Karstens…
Matt Diaz had three hits. Wood, Walker and Overbay each had two.
I have nothing bad to write about.
Karstens is now 3-2 against the ‘Stros. Rodriguez is now 7-5 against Pittsburgh.
Karstens has seven wins in 15 starts (19 appearances) in 2011. He won seven times combined in 2009 and 2010 in 32 starts (65 appearances).
Andrew McCutchen came into the game just 2-11 against Rodriguez in his career. He finished 0-3 with a walk.
Pence was 5-13 entering the contest in his career against Karstens. He went 2-3 against Kartens in this game.
This was Overbay’s third straight multi-hit game. He had only three multi-hit games in June.
Diaz has 16 hits in his last 43 at bats. He has raised his average from .245 on June 13 to .281 right now.
Veras has not been scored upon in his last ten outings covering 11-1/3 innings. He has stranded all five runners that he has inherited over that stretch.