Erik Bedard started 24 games for the Pirates last season, going 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA. After being released in August, the 34-year-old left-hander signed with the Astros in January. On Saturday, he'll take on his former team for the first time.
Righty Jose Contreras suffered a death in his family and left PNC Park before the game against the Houston Astros. The move returns righty Jared Hughes to the bullpen in which he was such a big part during his rookie season in 2012.
All the stars aligned in the proper order, and in the end there was Russell Martin clanging a second error off the Houston right fielder's glove for a 5-4 Pirates victory on Friday at PNC Park.
Three years after they ranked last in the National League in strikeouts, the Pirates (330 entering Friday) are on the verge of overtaking the Reds (334) for the league lead. In the first quarter of this season, the staff has already had nearly as many games with strikeouts in double-figures (15) as it had in all of 2010 (16).
Clint Hurdle, like any manager would, said that his Pirates will take the same approach against the Astros as they would against anyone else. But he admitted the familiarity with Houston makes things a little easier.
The Pirates made righty Jeanmar Gomez a long reliever to begin 2013, and he surrendered only four runs in 13 2/3 innings during five appearances. But Gomez has gotten the opportunity to start three games in the last few months, and cashed in on that chance.
Travis Snider hit a two-run, fifth-inning rocket over the right-center-field wall to back starter Francisco Liriano, and it was all the offense that the Pirates would need in a 7-1 win over the Brewers Thursday night at PNC Park.
Opponents have something to fear in the Pirates' bullpen, and its nickname seems to fit the bill. Setup man Mark Melancon dubbed the team's group of relievers the "Shark Tank" on Twitter earlier this season, and it has been as deadly as its moniker.
A relatively mundane, inconsequential and totally overlooked play by Russell Martin in the Pirates' Wednesday night victory was hailed by multiple team veterans as one of the best they had ever witnessed.
Prior to the start of Thursday's game against Milwaukee, manager Clint Hurdle talked glowingly of the team's 40-game performance.
Wandy Rodriguez stuck to Yovani Gallardo long enough for the Bucs to get enough of an upper hand for a 3-1 victory over Milwaukee at PNC Park.
It is only the middle of May, but Andrew McCutchen has already weathered two long slumps this young season. In late April, he went through a career-long 1-for-28 drought, and he dealt more recently with a 2-for-19 drag.
On Wednesday, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle sat Pedro Alvarez and Clint Barmes, who took a seat in favor of Jordy Mercer.
Francisco Liriano will start Thursday's finale of the four-game series against the Brewers, marking the second straight time the Bucs will have the three lefties -- including Jeff Locke and Wandy Rodriguez -- follow one another to the mound.
The Pirates placed infielder John McDonald on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday due to a low back strain and recalled infielder Jordy Mercer from Triple-A Indianapolis to take his spot.
Umpire Fieldin Culbreth, working home plate in Tuesday night's game between the Pirates and the Brewers, was forced to leave in the 11th inning with an apparent injury to his left collarbone.
Andrew McCutchen was a blur running around the bases after driving Mike Fiers' 2-2 pitch into PNC Park's right-field bleachers leading off the 12th inning on Tuesday to give the Pirates a 4-3 walk-off over the dreaded Milwaukee Brewers.
Russell Martin started Tuesday night after dealing with soreness in his neck during the last week, and said before the game that he doesn't have any concerns in regards to the injury. He added that he feels confident getting back into the lineup, both offensively and defensively.
During Spring Training, Jose Tabata mentioned that his plan for re-launching his career included breaking away from his well-known dotage of Roberto Clemente. His adoration of the Pirates immortal remains but, "I have to be my own person. I wanted to get my own identity," he said.
It may quickly fade from memory if this season derails into another link in the Pirates' losing chain. However, if 2013 has a brighter destination, the Bucs will have their own divine play to add to Pittsburgh's rich sports history -- Sunday's Immaculate Deflection.
Charlie Morton was scheduled to throw 35 pitches off a mound on Monday afternoon, using all four of his pitches, while right-hander Jeff Karstens was set to make a rehab start for Class A Bradenton on Monday.
Right-hander A.J. Burnett went seven innings, allowing three earned runs with six strikeouts, but the Pirates' offense managed only four hits in a 5-1 loss to the Brewers on Monday night at PNC Park.
Neil Walker has been reinstated from the 15-day disabled list by the Pirates, who made room for their regular second baseman by optioning Jordy Mercer back to Indianapolis.
Russell Martin's neck stiffness, the malady that had prevented the catcher from participating in four of the Pirates' past five games, had subsided overnight to allow the club to send understudy catcher Tony Sanchez to its Triple-A Indianapolis affiliate.
Clint Hurdle indicated Neil Walker will play Monday night against the Brewers after his disabled list assignment ends, which brings into question what will happen to Jordy Mercer.
Travis Snider, Garrett Jones, Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez, John McDonald and Clint Barmes, all in the starting lineup, used pink bats Sunday, with Barmes hitting a home run.
A lucky ricochet off the first-base bag in the eighth inning helped secure the Pirates' 3-2 win over Matt Harvey and the Mets on Sunday.
On Saturday morning, Jason Grilli attended a ceremony in Merrick, N.Y., where a scholastic baseball career was celebrated. Recognized at Calhoun High School was his father, Steve, a former big league pitcher.
Francisco Liriano was quite the winning pitcher in the Bucs' 11-2 victory against the Mets on Saturday, when Jose Tabata finished a triple shy of the cycle and Jordy Mercer contributed two homers.
Jay Bell's return to the Pirates meant more time to spend with his mother, Betty, during Spring Training. It was an opportunity he embraced and couldn't have enjoyed more.