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Game Hero/WPA, Astros Lead NLCS 3 - 1

Jason Lane
  • 2 for 3, HR, BB
  • His homer changed the momentum of the game
  • Another Astro with a big two strike hit

A thrilling, tightly-contested game turns very odd late. Brad Lidge miraculously escapes a first and third, no-out situation without giving up a run, keyed by an incredible effort from Adam Everett as the fulcrum of a double play that astonishes even after the fourth and fifth viewings. The Houston Astros are left one win, one game, away from the World Series.

Make no mistake, the odds are very much with them this time.

This was the game St. Louis needed to have; instead, Brandon Backe shocked the world again, and shut down the Cardinals, emphatically, again.

Backe had a lot of bite on his curveball most of the day; much of the time, the drop was so great that he couldn't keep it in the zone. But it was enticing enough to keep the Cardinals off balance, hacking and flailing much more often than they were taking pitches that would have been called balls.

Except for that little #$%$ so and so, Eckstein, who was patient enough to draw two very dangerous walks from Brandon.

But Eckstein was the exception rather than the rule, and when Garner got a little conservative I thought by removing Backe after he'd given up a two out single to Pujols in the sixth, he'd turned over a very winnable game to a bunch that rarely loses them.

Qualls couldn't have been better than he was yesterday, but to say he breezed through his inning is understating the point. And Wheeler works out of trouble as well as any reliever on the club.

Except for maybe Lidge, who gave up the exact maximum that he could without yielding a run.

In the end, it's extremely unfortunate that LaRussa did everything he could to make this Cardinal loss about the umpiring, make this about how his poor, beleaguered Cardinals just couldn't get a break, and even Fox was buying his untenable brand of bullshit by the close of their broadcast.

Well guess what, Tony: Phil Cuzzi had a broad, liberal strike zone today, and both pitchers benefited, in case you hadn't drawn that conclusion from the final score. He missed a couple each to both teams, but St. Louis was no more unfailry slighted than Houston was. And LaRussa's immature histrionics on the field and his sour grapes press conference only detract from a team that is usually the epitome of class.

And Tony: next time, when the umpire kicks you out of a ballgame, get the hell off the field. . . .

Win Expectancy Chart

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Top Five Astros
Lane   0.205
Lidge    0.167
Wheeler   0.123
Qualls   0.090
Berkman   0.070
Bottom Four Astros
Everett -0.116
Burke -0.121
Ausmus -0.136
Lamb -0.148
Top Three Cardinals
Walker   0.210
Suppan   0.125
Pujols   0.098