Morning Pirates Buzz
    1st time in 18 years? The Pirates have not been four games above .500 or better since the final day of the 1992 regular season, when they finished 96-66. They can move to 45-41 with a win tonight against the Astros.
    Pittsburgh goes into Tuesday’s action 1.5 games out of first place. The Pirates are 9-4 in their last 13 games. During that span they are 5-2 at home.
    Beating teams they should: The Pirates are 20-15 against teams with below .500 records.
    Amazing Stat for the Pirates: They are 40-0 when leading after 8 innings. All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan is 25-for-25 in save opportunities and his 25 saves on July 5th matches Mike Williams for the most saves in team history before the All-Star break.
    Improvement in two Key Areas: The Pirates were a league worst in 2010, giving up 5.4 runs per game. This year they are 12th in the majors, giving up just 3.9 runs per game.
    In the hitting department they are averaging 3.9 runs per game and have shown steady improvement of late. In 6 of their last 10 games, the Pirates have scored 5 runs or more.
    8th best ERA: The Pirates have the leagues 8th best team ERA at 3.42. The team’s 49 quality starts rank 12th in the majors.
    Presley, d’Arnaud adding speed and athleticism: One added dividend at least in the short-term for the Pirates has been the speed and athleticism┬áthat Alex Presley and Chase d’Arnaud have brought to the club.
    Presley (.364 – 1HR – 6 RBI’s) is 8-for-17 at the plate in his last 4 games, 2 runs scored, triple, RBI and 1 stolen base. Meanwhile, Chase d’Arnaud is 6-for-15 with 2 doubles, RBI, 5 runs scored in his last 3 games. d’Arnaud also has 3 Stolen Bases in his last 5 games.
    Second baseman Neil Walker (.255 – 8HR – 55RBI) has not homered since June 5, a span of 26 games.
    Walker though has 4 RBI’s thus far in the month of Jult and has 16 RBI’s in his last 20 games, despite having just 2 extra base hits during that span.
    Karstens looks to match incredible June: Jeff Karstens (6-4, 2.65 ERA) takes his team leading 2.65 ERA to the mound tonight against the Houston Astros.
    Karstens is coming off a tremendous June where he posted a 1.52 ERA, surrendering just 7 earned runs in 41 1/3 innings pitched. Karstens has given up 3 earned runs or less in 12 straight starts.