Astros Vs. Pirates Series: Houston Faces Desperate Pittsburgh Team

July 4, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) drives in a run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fifth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Houston Astros face the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game road series, with the Bucs desperate for a series sweep against Major League Baseball's worst team.

The Pittsburgh Pirates really need this series against the Astros. In fact, it would help them tremendously if the Bucs were able to sweep the three-game home stint against Major League Baseball's worst team, not just this year but possibly ever.

The Astros and Pirates have had polar opposite seasons, no need to remind anyone of that. But those differences collide at PNC Park this week. With the Bucs having a 3 1/2 cushion for a Wild Card playoff berth Aug. 8 and blowing to being a game and a half behind the final National League Wild Card spot, Pittsburgh is trying to make right what is left of the season.

And giving up anything to these Astros would be borderline reprehensible. So this is what the Stros are -- the team that you use to propel yourself when you're down, but also the one you can't afford to lose to.

There's too much at stake for even semi-relevant teams to fall to Houston. Nothing is at stake for the Stros, not even pride. Fans can soak in all the talk from interim manager Tony DeFrancesco about changing the attitude and caring more.

But the fact is, Houston has won two out of 11 meetings with the Pirates this season, the same Pirates who as mentioned earlier are in a desperate chase for a playoff spot, especially looking at their schedule and considering the blown opportunity against the Brewers this past weeked.

Read more on the Astros at The Crawfish Boxes and SB Nation Houston.

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