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Matchup/Thread Game # 78 at Reds (Doubleheader Game One)

Leading indicators pointing: UP
Leading indicators pointing: DOWN
Wandy Rodriguez   Aaron Harang
3 - 3, 6.86 4 - 6, 4.11

The front end of the Astros' first doubleheader in 2005 features a rookie pitcher who has never faced Cincinnati toeing the slab for Houston, and a pitcher who has faced Houston twice already this year climbing the hill for the Reds.

Wandy Rodriguez, coming off his best major league start, and having pitched at least six in each of his last four, will face Aaron Harang, who has basically pitched his best baseball of the year against the Astros.

Harang was the Reds' starter April 17, when he he gave up 3 runs over six, and outpitched Brandon Duckworth, but took a no decison when the mediocre Cincy bullpen blew the save but got the win. Harang also started against Roger Clemens May 30 and went 7, leaving with a 2 - 0 lead in that horrible game that ended 9 - 0 Reds when the Redlegs scored 7 in the ninth off Franco and Springer.

Those seven scoreless dropped Harang's ERA to 2.97, basically a season low since he gave up no runs vs. the Mets opening week. But the victory over Clemens was Harang's last, and the ERA has risen steadily as he has given up 5 over 4-2/3 , 5 over 6-1/3, and 3 over 6 in his last three starts.

Wandy Rodriguez remains a work in progress because though he relies on his location to get him outs, he is not always able to show that kind of control. His 3.91 walks per nine innings betrays a command of his pitches that should be better for someone not possessed of an overpowering out pitch. Though he continues to work on that screwball looking thing that breaks outside and away, I wonder what a scary Reds lineup that had few problems with a quality lefthander like Pettitte might think of Wandy.