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Matchup/Game Thread Game # 128

Hi Ho, Hi Ho
 It's Back to the Express I Go
Wandy Rodriguez Paul Maholm
9 - 7, 5.37 5 - 10, 4.86
Houston folk ought to be calling the Pirates "the Placebo," simply because they'll make you think you've cured what ails you.

A lot was made of a certain three game sweep not too long ago, but as we found out, the hot streak and the crisp play, was kind of illusory, and as more a function of the quality of opposition.

That beguiling three-game sweep left Houston at 6 - 0 against the Buccos at Minute Maid. And the Astros have outscored Pittsburgh in their Houston ballpark by a combined 35 - 8.

So you'd think things look good tonight, but even with the lowly Pirates, there is little room to get cocky for Houston. Because coming into tonight, the Pirates are also 2 - 1 when hosting the Astros. They've beaten us at their own beautiful ballpark by scoring 9 runs off Taylor Buchholz, and they've beaten us by going 18 innings, until Eric Munson was just too tired to catch the baseball.

And we have been outscored in Pittsburgh by a combined 24 - 17.

Yes, it's true that Maholm is 0 - 2 against Houston with a 7.71. It's true that he's given up 13 walks and3 homers in just 14 innings.

And it's true that Wandy is 1 - 0 with a 3.09 vs. these very same Pirates.

But I counted my chickens against the Cubs, and look where that got me. So I won't make a similar mistake here. I've watched this team play lately, and they're capable of losing to anybody.

But at the same time, no-one wants to see their team finish with a losing record. That happens, you find yourself slapped in the same category with the Brewers, and the Royals, and yeah, these Pirates. If the playoffs are unrealistic, a .500 record is not, and tonight would be a good place to begin the crawl back to respectability, while kicking some ass they've already proved they know how to kick.