The wins aren't the only thing that has spiked for the Pirates this season.
Their television audience on Root Sports continues to grow as they continue to win.
Compared to the same time a year ago, viewership for Pirates games is up 18 percent, according to Shawn McClintock, Root Sports Pittsburgh senior vice president and general manager. And those numbers were up 50 percent compared to the same time period in 2010.
"It's fun to have a great summer event going on like the Pirates," McClintock said. "It really raises the city."
The television audience has grown each month this season, and of the 12 most-watched games since 1995, when the network started keeping track, four have been from this season.
The Pirates' 2-0 victory against the Astros was the highest-rated game of the season, and the fifth-highest-rated Pirates game since 1995, with 275,000 viewers.
Of the 20 highest-rated games since 1995, 14 have come from this season and last season, McClintock said.
He added a lot of the growth has been in the 18-49 demographic, which includes a lot of fans who are not old enough to remember some of the Pirates' best seasons, and for some, a winning season.
Catcher Rod Barajas made his third start Friday since he sustained a bone bruise to his left knee June 25. He was scheduled to start Thursday but was scratched from the lineup.
He said the injury is slowly progressing, but the discomfort returns after a night behind the plate.
"It's a bruise," Barajas said. "When you're catching, you're banging it, you're banging it, and the next day, it's sore again."
The scenario has required backup catcher Michael McKenry to be on call more frequently than normal.
"For the last two weeks, it's been interesting," McKenry said. "But you've got to be on your toes at all times. You've just got to be ready every day."
With the looming All-Star break, and McKenry's success at the plate, Barajas' injury came at a good time for the Pirates because it will allow him to heal.
"Rod's probably at a position now where he could be more aggressive and take more innings, but why right now with McKenry playing the way he is, handling the staff the way he is and the way he's swinging the back?" manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Chicago White Sox claimed left-handed pitcher Daniel Moskos off waivers Friday. The Pirates designated Moskos for assignment June 26 to make room on the 40-man roster for Eric Fryer.
The Pirates drafted Moskos with the fourth overall pick in 2007, a draft that also included fifth overall pick Matt Wieters, an All-Star catcher with the Baltimore Orioles. Moskos made 31 appearances with the Pirates, all in 2011, posting a 2.96 ERA. He did not make the major league club out of spring training and struggled with his control and elbow issues for Class AAA Indianapolis.
Relievers Chris Leroux and Doug Slaten each cleared waivers and have been outrighted to Indianapolis, the Pirates announced Friday.
Leroux, a right-handed pitcher, began the season on the 60-day disabled list with a strained right pectoral muscle. The Pirates claimed Leroux off waivers in 2010, and he made 29 appearances over two seasons, posting a 3.34 ERA. His rehabilitation assignment ended Thursday.
The Pirates signed Slaten as a minor league free agent this offseason. He had a 2.77 ERA in 10 appearances for the Pirates this season.
Leroux was out of options, and Slaten was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Oscar Tejada. The two are expected to report to Indianapolis within a week.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 7, 2012 4:15 AM