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Matchup at Pirates 6:05 CDT

Matt Albers Zach Duke
0 - 0, 3.00 1 - 2, 9.00

Another freaking lefty, yikes. And one that's gone 7 while giving up two against us already this year.

The Astros are now 1 - 5 when a lefty starts, and they are reaching base* against starters throwing from the south at a positively anemic .319 clip.

But if the Astros have had a problem with lefty starters, the problem doesn't seem to extend to their reliever brethren, as the Astros are fourth in the league in batting average against lefties in general at 2.75.

So they must be pounding southpaw relievers.

And if so, if they're getting it right in the 7th, 8th, and 9th, you'd think they'd get it right eventually in the earlier innings.

Tonight may be that eventually, as Duke--who worked around a bunch of baserunners on Opening Day in his no-decision--has been terrible in his last three starts, and before his Opening Day 2007 effort, Duke had been 0 - 3, 5.56 against the Astros.

I have no idea what effect Garner's intentionally publicized talking down might have on his team's play tonight. But my guess is that he made sure The Chronicle had a big story about it so that us fans could be sure that he's In Control and Has The Situation Covered.

Truth is, it's been a very taxing road trip, and after beginning it well, the team has looked tired the last few nights.

Phil can scream all he wants, but what the team needs most is a second wind. That, or an offday.

And you know what else? If I were to make any one change tonight in an effort to shake the team up, I think the move I'd make would be to give Lance Berkman the night off.

*Figured as (H + BB + HBP)/BF. Not OBP, but close.