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Matchup/Game Thread Game # 18 vs. Pirates 1:05 CST

Paul Maholm Roy Oswalt
0 - 2, 6.11 3 - 0, 2.76
Before I get going on the Buccos, just wanted to touch briefly on our favorite Reality TV star*. If you hadn't heard, Barry Bonds hit his first homer of the season last night. And while I can't really fault for making it their lead story, I can find fault with Barry for the pose he struck before deigning to run the bases.

The one-man celebration captured on film looked as if Barry were welcoming the Herald Angels from heaven, and, given the storm surrounding Game of Shadows, and the painfully slow start that Bonds has bellied up with, it was about as appropriate as giving your pastor a crack pipe for his birthday.

It's probably just me, but I woulda thunk that as Barry contemplates all the lies he's told, and learns to accept his sadly failing body, he might have just taken his bases a little more humbly.

But again, that's just me.

No matter how much ESPN wants to promote the man and his reality show, all of this Bonds junk must be understood for the talking seal act it truly is, compared with the incredible starts enjoyed by two much better human beings, Mssrs. Morgan Ensberg and Albert Pujols.

As Ensberg sets a club record, all he wants to talk about is the team, and as Albert Pujols hits 11 homers vs. only 6 strikeouts in the early going, all he wants to do is talk about trying to walk more.

Evidently, there was some flak from Cards fans about Pujols flipping the bat this week after a homer off Oliver Perez. You know I hate that fucking act more than anything, but I will say this: unlike with Bonds, I believe that with Pujols, the actions do not betray the man. I am often astounded by the humility Pujols shows.

Maybe I'm giving the guy something of a free pass, 'cause he's like, really good, and apparently steroid-free, but seems to me that Cardinals fans, rather than giving their best player unwarranted heat, should instead thank their lucky stars they're not Giants fans, and thus have not been lured into the soul-stealing hypocrisy. The Bonds apologists often make me sick, but they're right about one thing: it's not easy being the best player in baseball.

And I'm very very happy that player is no longer Barry Bonds


The 2005 team's well-documented struggles in the early going were most often referred to by that team's lousy road record. But lest we forget, that team was 6 - 14 over its first twenty against lefthanders, too. Which is why the 3 - 1 record the Astros have posted against southpaws so far has to be interpreted as yet another positive marker upon the road they've traveled thus far.

The lefthander Maholm--one of many promising young pitchers the Pirates can trot out, it seems--has never faced the Astros. But as with Snell last night, it's possible that his 2006 stats understate the talent a bit. Maholm was 3 - 1 in 2005 with a 2.18 ERA and a .209 BAA.

Roy is 7 - 5 lifetime against the Pirates, and carries a 3.10 ERA. He was 1 - 1 with a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio against them in 2005.

Roy can tie Pedro (and some guy named Villareal) for the National League lead in wins if he can grab the decision today. Oswalt and the boys can keep up with the '79, '80 and '86 teams by winning their 13th today against the five losses for best 18-game start in franchise history.

* Not!