Two former National League Central rivals will clash in game two of a three-game series as the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Houston Astros. The Astros took game one 5-1 as Gerrit Cole faced his former team for the first time since being traded to Houston. There is currently no line on this game as the Pirates have not officially named a starter for Wednesday.
Pirates in NL Central Basement
Pittsburgh comes into play Wednesday currently tied for last place in the National League Central with a 36-41 record. However, even with that paltry record, the Bucs are only six games behind division leader Chicago. The Pirates have actually been playing relatively well over the last 10 games, as they have gone 6-4 during that stretch. It appears that while manager Clint Hurdle hasn’t made the announcement official, he said the club intends on calling up Dario Agrazal to start Wednesday’s game. This will be Agrazal’s second career start, his first coming against Miami where he went four innings, allowing three runs on six hits.
First baseman Josh Bell leads the Pirates offense. Bell has had a breakout first half, hitting .311, with 20 home runs and 66 RBI, which leads the National League. Starling Marte is hitting .275 with 11 home runs for a Pirates offense that is third in the National League with a .263 batting average but is 12th in the league in runs scored with 346.
Easily On Top
The Houston Astros continue to roll along like a well-oiled machine to the tune of a 50-30 record and a 6.5-game lead over the Texas Rangers in the American League West. Despite their gaudy record, the Astros had lost seven straight before defeating the Yankees on Sunday. They hit four home runs Sunday and now have their swagger back after taking game one of the series with the Pirates. The Astros will send Framber Valdez to the mound to win the series Wednesday. Valdez is 3-3 with a 3.61 ERA. He has struck out 39 hitters in 42 1/3 innings pitched. He is facing Pittsburgh for the first time.
Outfielder Michael Brantley paces the Astros’ attack with a .318 batting average. Brantley’s batting average is good for third in the American League. Third baseman Alex Bregman is doing the heavy lifting and putting up All-Star numbers. He has hit 22 home runs and driven in 52 runs. He is fourth in the league in home runs. The Astros are the second-best hitting team in the American League with a .267 team batting average and are sixth in runs scored with 410.
The Astros will be facing a pitcher that they have never faced before. It is not going to matter, as they seem to have found their way back to the team that has won 100 games the last two seasons. Take the Astros in this one.