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Matchup/Diary NLDS Game Two

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Rogér Clemens   John Smoltz
13 - 8, 1.87   
1.01 WHIP  
14 - 7, 3.06
1.15 WHIP

Excuse the stars in my eyes; I was just thinking what it might be like for the Astros to go up two games to none before heading back to Houston.

Everyone wants to try and keep an even keel, I'm sure, including the players, but it's hard to feel pessimistic when you've got the Only Living 340-Game Winner toeing the slab for the good guys.

Clemens of course beat the Braves in Game One of the LDS last year, then beat the Cardinals in Game Three of the League Championship Series. Clemens' last start in the playoffs, however, did not go as cleanly for him, as he was unable to protect a 2 - 1 sixth inning lead in Game Seven of the LCS.

Thus, you can play both the successful trend card AND the unfinished business card in regards the Rocket. And while you're at it, play the Chicago Cubs card. Clemens had been shaky in September, but when the Astros absolutely HAD to have Clemens pitch well, last Saturday against the Cubs, he did so. It'll be very hard to convince me that Clemens won't pitch well against the Braves tonight.

When you can pin him down, John Smoltz says he feels fine, but he's ducking reporters, and Bobby Cox has used this 95% figure to describe the guy's shoulder. If you're a Braves fan, it's probably hard to get more than 50% gung-ho about Smoltz going tonight, although I'm sure they're hoping for the very best.

A Houston fan, though, has got to wonder whether they're gonna get it.

And how about that offense? Mediocre it may have been throughout the season, but no-one can deny its streakiness. And maybe, just maybe, we're seeing another positive streak in its nascent stages. With the Cubs game Sunday, we've now seen back-to-back games in which the offense was better than acceptable. I'd love to use a stronger predicate adjective than "better than acceptable," but listen, this is the Astros. You can't turn a Dodge Dart into an Aston-Martin.

"Better than acceptable" will have to do. And should do, given the pitching.

Anyway, I looked at it a little bit, and the Astros scored 6 runs or more 52 times in 2005, not including yesterday. 19 of those games were isolated, that is, more than one game removed from another game in which they scored six or more. But 33 of the games were "bunched;" no more than one day separates these. The Astros scored six or more runs:

  • two games in a row twice
  • three games in a row three times
  • two games in three days once
  • four times in five days twice
  • five times in six days once
  • five times in five days with a doubleheader once

Obviously, there's less streakiness and less correlation when you raise the criterion to 8 runs or more, but still, of the 22 times the Astros scored 8 or more runs, once the occurrences were back-to back, once they got it done twice in three games, and once they accomplished it four times in five days.

When they raise the bar offensively, it DOES appear that the bar stays raised, usually for a couple games or more. . . .

I'm not a statistician or anything, but could be, you know?

Nothing's written in stone, but Clemens very well might have a good outing. Smoltz may very well blow up. And the offense may very well have another decent game.

And don't look now, but the Astros may very well win Game Two.

*     *
Just a guess, but what do you say Berkman sees a few more pitches tonight? If he's even half as good at converting his opportunities as Ensberg was Wednesday, the Astros should be in good shape.