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.