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Pirates 1, Astros 0: Jeff Karstens Pitches Bucs Back To .500

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HOUSTON - JUNE 14:  Pitcher Jeff Karstens #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 14, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - JUNE 14: Pitcher Jeff Karstens #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 14, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Pirates starter goes 6.2 innings and doesn't allow a run. Pirates offense scores one run. The bottom of the Pirates' offense does absolutely nothing. Joel Hanrahan enters in the ninth and mows everyone down. The recaps just write themselves anymore, don't they? Last month, I could probably have copy-pasted this one into posts that I scheduled to go up every 24 hours for the last month, and I would've looked pretty good a lot of the time.

Not that I'm complaining, really. Actually, I've probably already complained about the Pirates' particular style too much recently. The fact is, they're winning, and they're back to .500. I'm not sure how Jeff Karstens is doing it, but he's quietly been brilliant this season. That's a slight exaggeration, but not much of one, and it's very strange how much the Bucs have gotten this year from a guy who was, until very recently, a spare part. 

Some random notes:

-P- It looked like Andrew McCutchen might have been hurt midway through the game when Brett Wallace's knee hit him, but it turned out not to be a problem, fortunately - that would have been disastrous for the Pirates. 

-P- Michael McKenry went 0-for-3 again today, which is a real shame, because I really wanted to see him get a single so we could have lots of long shots of him standing next to Wallace. There would be more thigh in those shots than a KFC commercial. Lots of western Pennsylvania residents would probably think their TVs were broken.

-P- I had a hard time convincing my brother that Bud Norris is actually a very good pitcher. His stuff didn't actually look that great. But he still struck out nine Pirates anyway, thanks largely to the fact that his slider came in almost as hard as his fastball. He kept burying that slider in the ground, and the Pirates kept swinging.

-P- To get from Karstens to Hanrahan, Clint Hurdle went through four relievers in 1.1 innings, which might be an indication of the level of comfort he has with these guys right now. It worked, as the only guy who really struggled was Tim Wood. I was concerned that Jose Veras might have another blowup, but he didn't. It would be really nice to see Veras or Chris Resop step up and become a reliable late-inning reliever; they certainly both have the skills to do it.