Thursday, October 14, 2004


Bottom of the eight.

Tie game.

Pujols (.526 MLVr), Rolen (.419 MLVr), and Edmonds (.475 MLVr) due to bat.

What other situation could Garner possibly be saving Lidge for? The possibility the 'Stros take the lead in the ninth to face Renteria (-0.011 MLVr), Sanders (.060 MLVr), and Methany (-0.176 MLVr)? The chance to use Lidge in extra innings?

Let me ask you honestly. Pretend you've never heard of the save rule. Even if LaRussa subs in Mabry (.189 MLVr) for Methany, which trio would you feel most comfortable assigning to Miceli (3.59 ERA) and which would you save for Lidge (1.90 ERA)?

And even if Lidge starts the eight, shuts down the Cards, and then Isringhausen pulls the same trick on the 'Stro, there's no reason Lidge can't pitch the ninth. (If it's still tied going in extra innings, well, I don't think you can blame Garner for then resorting to Miceli to face the top of the Cards' order.)

During the regular season, Lidge did a flawless Eric Gagne impression over 80 games and 94 innings. That's nearly an inning and a third every other game. Garner has now lost two close games without once sending Lidge to the mound. I still feel confident that the Astros CAN win this series, but they've got to get their ace in the game.


Watching the way the Astros lost last night to the Cards, I'm more convinced than ever they can actually take this series. (I felt the same way after the Yankees dropped Game 1 to the Twins. Despite the outcome, the Twins just looked really lucky.)

The Astros hit the ball. Hard. They hit the starter, Woody Williams, and they hit the Cards' much-vaunted bullpen. With their interchangeable group of #2-#3 starters, the Cards don't have anyone who can be expected to shut the 'Stros down for the first 6 innings. The Astros, of course, have two such guys, Mr. Clemens and Mr. Oswalt. And with Brad Lidge for the back three (or four or five or six), the Cards' scoring chances look a hell of a lot smaller in Games 3 and 4. The Astros face no such limits.

As for Game 2, this isn't 2001, and Pete Munro is really no worse than (former ace) Matt Morris. Should be another high scoring affair.

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