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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Astros: Moment of Truth 

Maybe that title is misleading. With eighteen games remaining, tonight's series opener with the Cardinals isn't a must-win. It is, however, a need-to-win.

So come on Astros, go win it.

Not misleading after all

The Astros' season just came down to one pitch. Brad Lidge, who should have never gotten close to the bullpen mound, much less the actual one, blows one by So Taguchi to close out a 7-5 win against the Redbirds. Houston had squandered a 7-1 advantage, and with two men on -- in scoring position, no less, due to a wild pitch -- St. Louis had climbed to within a base hit of what would have been a demoralizing blow to Houston's playoff hopes.

Surrendering late-inning comebacks is a part of baseball. Every team blows games over the course of a major league season, but when you're fighting for your playoff life, giving away six runs in the last inning is the kind of setback that can kill confidence and send team into a spiral.

Lidge's final pitch, a 2-2 fastball in the dirt, was indeed a moment of truth. Even taking away the lingering effects of a collapse, a loss would have dropped Houston two games behind San Francisco.

The five-game set in Pittsburgh wasn't kind to Houston. Yeah, they went 2-3, and ceded the wild-card lead that they had forged during the twelve-game win streak. Winning tonight, though, puts them in position to make something positive happen here in St. Louis.


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