Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 7/5/12

Even though the Pirates won the first three games against the Astros this week, they had to come back to win each time. Jeff Karstens made sure that wasn’t an issue on Thursday night as the Bucs earned the sweep.

Karstens was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. He dominated the Astros in three starts against them last season and picked up right where he left off tonight, tossing eight scoreless innings on a mere 89 pitches. Vintage Karstens, cruising through inning after inning with remarkable efficiency. Jeff allowed just four hits and had his super slow curve working to perfection, allowing him to strike out eight (a pretty high number for him). Awesome.

The offense had a bit of an off night, but chose a good time for that to happen. The Bucs’ lowest run output since the Sunday loss to Justin Verlander 12 games ago still resulted in a win, as Casey McGehee‘s RBI double and Garrett Jones‘ sac-fly provided more than enough for Karstens. The Bucs had just five hits, but four went for doubles and for the first time in a while they were able to get out to an early lead.

Clint Hurdle made a curious (and unpopular move) by pulling Karstens after eight innings, despite the dominant eight innings with a low pitch count. His reasoning was that it was only Jeff’s third start after an injury–I don’t really buy it, but I wasn’t in the dugout talking to Karstens about it.

Joel Hanrahan got the call for the save, and for the third day in a row he was shaky. He walked the leadoff man and fell behind the next hitter, but after a great boost from the crowd he induced a big double play. Then he walked another before getting the final out.  Hanrahan won’t be available for tomorrow now that he’s pitched three days in a row–another reason bringing him in seemed questionable–but maybe that’s a good thing after these last few days? I’m confident he’ll get things back together, but this hasn’t been a good stretch for him.

That’s nitpicking though. The Pirates completed their first four game sweep SINCE 2006 and continue to lead the division. It should be a rockin’ weekend at PNC.

Pirates 2, Astros 0 / Box / 2012 Record: 46-36 / Next: Friday, vs. Giants, 7:05

MVP: Karstens (+.557) / LVP: McKenry (-.074) / Key play: McGehee’s double

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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