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Pregame: Karstens on the mound

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This has nothing to do with baseball, but I felt compelled to post it anyway. It's an attraction for kids at The Levee, a collection of shops and restaurants in nearby Newport, Ky.

This has nothing to do with baseball, but I felt compelled to post it anyway. It's an attraction for kids at The Levee, a collection of shops and restaurants in nearby Newport, Ky.

CINCINNATI — Right-hander Jeff Karstens should be good for at least 70 pitches in his spot start this afternoon against the Reds.

“We’ll see what he can give us, how efficient he can be with the number of pitches he’s got.” manager Clint Hurdle said this morning. “I don’t want to put a number on it. Can he get to 100? I think that’d be a stretch. Can he throw more than 70? I believe so.”

Karstens threw 67 pitches in 3 1/3 innings April 8 when he replaced injured starter Ross Ohlendorf (upper back). Karstens hasn’t pitched in a game since, but he has thrown two bullpen sessions.

»»» Garrett Jones went 4 for 6, including a homer and two RBI, in his past two games. He went 5 for 29 over the first 10 games. In eight games on the road, Jones is batting .360 (9 for 25).

Hurdle spent about 20 minutes the other day talking with Jones about the path of the bat through the hitting zone. Hurdle suggested that Jones vary his practice swings, simulating how he’d attack balls up in the zone, low and away, up and in, and so on.

“Don’t take the same, repetitive swing — one that you’re not going to take during a game,” Hurdle said. “He’s shown the ability to hit and to hit for power. Guys get locked up from time to time, for whatever reason. Usually, there’s just too much noise going on upstairs (in their heads). Garrett seems to keep it simple. Hopefully, we’ve been able to simplify some things for him. He’s shown some traction — in this series, especially — for the first time all season. He’s gotten better and there’s been some swing consistency.”

»»» Yesterday’s game was the first this season in which Jose Tabata did not reach base.

»»» Pirates pitchers served up one home run in the first six games. Over the past eight, they’ve allowed 10 homers.

Lineups for today’s game:

Pirates (6-8) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Jose Tabata lf, 3. Lyle Overbay 1b, 4. Neil Walker 2b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Garrett Jones rf, 7. Chris Snyder c, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Jeff Karstens rhp (1-0, 0.00)

Reds (9-5) – 1. Drew Stubbs cf, 2. Miguel Cairo 2b, 3. Joey Votto 1b, 4. Scott Rolen 3b, 5. Jonny Gomes lf, 6. Jay Bruce rf, 7. Ramon Hernandez c, 8. Paul Janish ss, 9. Edinson Volquez rhp (2-0, 5.82)

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