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Astros Vs. Pirates: Rebuilding Astros Not The Pushover You Might Think

The Astros' roster may not look particularly intimidating, but it might be better than you think.

May 06, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros infielder Jose Altuve (27) in the dugout before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
May 06, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros infielder Jose Altuve (27) in the dugout before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

The Pirates' early-season schedule was one of the toughest in baseball, but now they get a bit of a respite, with three games against the rebuilding Houston Astros.

Even those might not be as easy as expected, though. The Astros are 14-17, like the Pirates, but they've actually scored more runs than they've allowed, thanks in part to big performances from Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie and Wandy Rodriguez. They just lost two out of three against the Marlins, but right before that, they took five of six from the Mets and Cardinals.

The first game of the series, at 7:05 on Friday, features Bud Norris and James McDonald. McDonald is off to a great start, and he has 27 strikeouts in his last three outings. (Incidentally, you can read more here about the trade that brought McDonald to Pittsburgh.)

On Saturday at 7:05, J.A. Happ will face Charlie Morton, and at 1:35 on Sunday, A.J. Burnett will face Rodriguez.

For more on the Pirates, be sure to check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.