|Jerome Williams||Rogér Clemens|
|6 - 9, 4.28||12 - 8, 1.89|
All that talk of brutal losses yesterday was in fact wasted. Because last night's game was in truth the worst loss of the year. The hitting has again gone ice cold, and the Cubs continue to have all the breaks and most of the calls go their way.
The Astros have over the last week continually been on the brink of victory against the Cubs, and they have continually been slapped away, like they were a fly that had alighted on a stick butter at the Cubs' picnic.
In addition, I've never been an athlete, but how a man can convert 24 saves in a row, then look so awful in simply trying to get three outs is beyond me.
Is it biorhythms, or something like that?
All year, I have written and spoken against the concept of momentum transferred from one game to the other. But that is in normal games, and in normal stuations. These are extremely important games, and the losses we've seen have been extreme.
I do fear that the Astros will be working against some sort of ill-defined momentum today, some kind of belief on the part of the Cubs tht they've got the 'Stros covered, and some sort of deep fear on the part of the Houston players, that, my God, it could all come crashing down.
That having been said, all the Astros have to do to stem the tide is cut the magic number in half, get it to one for Oswalt tomorrow.
There are two pitchers attempting to do that for the 'Stros today. One is Roger Clemens, the greatest righthander of the live ball era. He's undoubtedly hurt, but Clemens has pitched great games while hobbled this year, and there's no question about his being rested. Roger will face Jerome Williams, a pitcher who threw well against Houston in a strange game last weekend, but Williams has slightly less big game experience, and over 300 wins fewer than the Rocket.
Over in Washington, trying to defeat the Phillies will be the most underrated pitcher in baseball, John Patterson. If you don't recall the tough games Patterson has pitched against the Astros, you should at least know that Patterson is one of only ten starters in all the majors with an ERA under 3.00, along with names like Clemens, Willis, Carpenter, Martinez . . .
You get the picture. Patterson baffled the Phillies and earned the win September 3, going 7-1/3 and giving up one run. Patterson will be opposed by Brett Myers, like Williams, a good young pitcher, but not in Patterson's class.
And again, I believe that only one of these games needs to come through for the 'Stros. With the magic number at 1, I think we'd win with Oswalt Sunday, regardless of how that one game had been shaved, whether it was the glorious 'Stros victory, or the back-in Phillies loss.
So no time to panic yet, but an early lead of more than one run for Clemens will relax everyone involved, I'm sure.