b The Longhorn Mafia <$BlogRSDURL$>

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Astros: Can We Do It Again? 

Phil Garner evidently thinks so. He sends in ace pitcher Roy Oswalt to relieve Carlos Hernandez in the 8th inning. Roy O, sumarily dismissed for beaning Michael Barrett in the 3rd inning of Sunday's loss against the Cubs, makes quick work of the Phillies, and now the Stros have a chance to break a 2-2 tie.

Two-out hitting!

Back-to-back-to-back singles from Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Mike Lamb put Houston ahead for the first time tonight. Credit Brad Ausmus for getting things started with an infield single to lead off the 8th. I don't have any numbers handy, but I would estimate that Houston's "close and late" batting average has to be about fifty points higher the past month as in the previous two or three.


That headline usually means Carlos Beltran went deep. Well it means that tonight, too, but Beltran wasn't the best Astro named Carlos. Carlos Hernandez showed Houston fans what they've waitied a long time to see -- the promise that he dazzled the Astros faithful with during a late 2001 call-up. Hernandez allowed just two runs in seven innings, and the second came after a potential third out pop-up struck a beam in foul territory (Minute Maid ground rules deem such a play a dead ball). Phillie Placido Polanco used his second chance to give his team a 2-0 lead with a home run into the Crawford Boxes.

Strange stat

Brad Lidge closes out the 4-2 win, Houston's fifth of the season against Philly. With his one inning of relief work, Oswalt earns the win. If he weren't one of the NL's best starters, I think Roy could be an elite closer.

What now?

Houston moves back above .500. But the road doesn't get any easier. Pete Munro gets the task of trying to close out Philadelphia tomorrow (13-game winner Eric Milton pitches for the Phils), and even if they finish the sweep, the four-game season finale with the Cubbies awaits in Chi-town awaits this weekend. Without the services of Andy Pettitte or Wade Miller the rest of the season, fill-ins like Hernandez, Brandon Backe and Munro have to provide quality starts almost every night.

I'm hesitant to call the next five games "key." Sure, I'd love to see Houston win tomorrow and then go take three of four from the Cubs. But even a split keeps hope alive. After Chicago, the Stros face a 14 game stretch against the Reds and Pirates. We know what happened in the "breather" stretch with Montreal and NY (I'm still in disbelief about that debacle), but the fact remains that Houston stands a better chance of catching up with the likes of Cinci and Pittsburgh, than against LA or San Diego.

The only thing that really matters is that tonight's win kept hope alive. At this point, that's all Houston fans can expect. Let's go get it done again tomorrow.

Don't give up.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?