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Game Thread Game # 17 vs. Pirates 6:05 CST

'Oooh That Snell': I hear he 
Can't speak a word
when he's full of 'ludes
Ian Snell Taylor Buchholz
0 - 1, 9.60 0 - 1, 3.18
Two starts for Ian Snell last year against the Astros. The first came July 19, and actually represented Snell's first major league start, and Ezequiel Astacio's first major league win.

Ian was snell-shocked as Houston jumped on him for five runs in the first three innings. He ended up giving up 10 hits and the five runs over five innings, striking out three and walking one.

But don't let that lull you into a sense of false security: the return engagement went the Pirates' way, as on the 19th of September, Snell threw 8 shutout innings while only giving up 3 hits. He struck out five and walked three that day, beating Roger Clemens in what remains the best game he's ever pitched.

The Astros have never taken the kid deep. Morgan Ensberg had two hits off Snell in the first game, and was one of the lucky three in the second game. He thus hits .429 off the young Pirate righthander. Orlando Palmeiro has only had two at bats, but they were both hits, including a double.

Snell has been rocked each time he's gone out there this year, giving up 26 hits and 16 runs in fifteen innings spaced evenly over three starts.

Buchholz is of course making his second start after pitching very credibly in last Monday's victory over the Brewers. He threw six innings before yielding to a bullpen we didn't yet know as shaky, and other than giving up these two MONSTER shots to Carlos Lee and Geoff Jenkins, he did better than you could have hoped for.

Here's a chance to get Taylor his first win. The Pirates are now 1 - 7 on the road, and they've gotta feel like last night was their best chance to take one at MMP. Jason Bay is worthy of respect, and Craig Wilson is one of the ten best hitters in the league right now, but I'd guess Taylor has the stuff to beat the rest of the Pirates roster.

With last night's nailbiter, the Astros are now 6 - 0 in one run games. I don't think that tonight's game will end up in either column.

Morgan Ensberg would tie Jim Thome for second place all-time in consecutive games homered if he can hit a tater this evening. Thome hit a shot in seven consecutive games in 2002. The record is eight, shared by Dale Long, Don Mattingly, and Ken Griffey, Jr.