HOUSTON — There’s one obvious upside to LHP Wandy Rodriguez making his Pirates debut tonight against his former team, the Astros, at Minute Maid Park. “There shouldn’t be any mound issues,” manager Clint Hurdle joked. Hurdle is not worried about Rodriguez feeling conflicted about facing his old club. “He’s going to pitch against these guys sooner or later, with as many games as we’ve got (against) them down the stretch,” Hurdle said. “So, why not knock it down now and move on?”
Rod Barajas is catching tonight, in part because Rodriguez is most comfortable speaking Spanish and Hurdle doesn’t want any communication breakdowns right out of the chute. But expect Michael McKenry to get plenty of time behind the plate with the lefty, too, as the season goes on. Hurdle is usually not inclined to assign a “personal catcher” to his pitchers. The catchers will try to learn as much as they can about the new guy as quickly as possible. It’s not always a hard chore. “Sometimes, you see kindred spirits,” Hurdle said. “Last year, with all the transition we had moving catchers in and out, there some nights it just clicked and other nights when it was more complicated.”
»»» The Pirates are 14-2 on Saturdays this season — 9-0 at home and 5-2 on the road.
»»» The Pirates have posted winning records in three straight months. It’s the first time they’ve done that since 1991, when they were above .500 in every month of the season.
Game 100: Pirates @ Astros, 7:05 p.m. ET
Pirates (57-42): 1. Starling Marte lf, 2. Alex Presley rf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Neil Walker 2b, 6. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 7. Rod Barajas c, 8. Clint Barmes ss, 9. Wandy Rodriguez lhp (7-9, 3.79)
Astros (34-67): 1. Jose Altuve 2b, 2. Matt Downs 1b, 3. Chris Johnson 3b, 4. J.D. Martinez lf, 5. Justin Maxwell cf, 6. Ben Francisco rf, 7. Brian Bixler ss, 8. Carlos Corporan c, 9. Armando Galarraga (season debut)