July 8: Pirates (38-46) @ Astros (40-42); Sanchez takes BP

The Pirates can claim a series win with a victory on Wednesday, which would be a feat for a few reasons. The team has not won any of its last seven road series and has not won a series tied at 1-1 on the road since doing so late in April against San Diego.

The Pirates still sit at 12-24 against teams from the NL Central this season and taken just one series against an division opponent all year. That came from May 12-14 when the Pirates tok two of three from the Cardinals.

As for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • Still no Freddy Sanchez in the lineup, though the second baseman is still optimistic for a Friday return date. He is out on the field right now throwing, as he did on Tuesday. UPDATE: For the first time since injuring his back on Friday, Sanchez took BP on the field with his team. That’s certainly an encouraging sign for a Friday return.
  • Catcher Ryan Doumit went 0-for-5 as the designated hitter with Indianapolis on Tuesday in his fifth rehab game. GM Neal Huntington was on hand to watch the game in Columbus, Ohio. Doumit is now 0-for-17 in five rehab games.
  • Wednesday’s game against Houston lefty Wandy Rodriguez marks the first of three games in which the Pirates will face a southpaw starter leading into the All-Star break. They have lefties Cole Hamels (Saturday) and J.A. Happ (Sunday) on the docket in Philly.
  • Pedro Alvarez hit his third homer with Altoona on Tuesday during a 1-for-5 night. Alvarez is hitting just .200 in 12 games, but has those three homers and seven RBIs.
  • Adam LaRoche is hitting sixth for the first time this season. Prior to Wednesday he had made 59 starts as the cleanup hitter and 19 as the No. 5 hitter. The move down in the lineup was prompted by LaRoche’s recent struggles. He is just 3-for-24 this month. But if you’re looking for any good news, LaRoche is 5-for-12 in his career against Wandy Rodriguez.
  • As noted in last night’s game story, shortstop Jack Wilson reached 60 career homers with his blast on Tuesday. Ten of those home runs have come here at Minute Maid Park. Those 60 homers rank fourth all-time among Pittsburgh shortstops behind Arky Vaughan (84), Jay Bell (78) and Honus Wagner (68).
  • Oh, and thanks a million to the Pirates’ medical staff for providing me with bug spray and hydrocortisone cream to get me through the game. The mosquitos here in the press box apparently have taken quite the liking to me this week.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Jack Wilson (SS)
  3. Delwyn Young (LF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  6. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  7. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  8. Ramon Vazquez (2B)
  9. Charlie Morton (RHP)

Astros lineup:

  1. Michael Bourn (CF)
  2. Miguel Tejada (SS)
  3. Lance Berkman (1B)
  4. Carlos Lee (LF)
  5. Geoff Blum (3B)
  6. Hunter Pence (RF)
  7. Kazuo Matsui (2B)
  8. Humberto Quintero (C)
  9. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP)

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