|Brandon Backe||Brian Moehler|
|2- 2, 6.81||1 - 1, 2.19|
We had seats in right field near the foul pole, the first row, and with Easley, Delgado and Cabrera coming up in the eighth, I really thought that Garner should start the inning with Lidge. I really did.
And I really knew it had no chance of happening.
So after Springer got Easley, things started getting weird. First, Delgado sends the ball towards us, but way way high above our heads, and we all craned our necks upward to see the ball soaring majestically, approaching our absolute zenith, but thankfully, remarkably, completing its archlike path on the other side of the foul pole, and the little group of Houston fans I was sitting with began a little celebration, as Delgado's swat was rendered into nothing but a loud strike.
Then three pitches later, Delgado hit one-- longer, farther--the other way, and our group was no longer celebrating.
"Extra innings. Many, many, extra innings," was my thought as I watched Delgado circle the bases as the 11G or so went as crazy as their limited numbers could allow.
Then Cabrera singled with the throw in the dirt from Everett something I thought maybe, just maybe, Bagwell coulda handled. And yikes, Lo Duca doubled. And Conine was intentionally walked.
Alright, you bring in Lidge here, I thought, Lidge can't save any hypothetical 12-inning game if we don't get out of the eighth. Besides, Qualls hasn't been any good since April 21.
And one of the guys says, "it's Lidge," and I think, probably out loud, "yeah, Lidge. . .win or lose with your best." And of course the first pitch is golfed off the left field wall, and it sucks pretty hard, but hell, at least it was off Lidge. . . .
On the ride home, I found out that it had actually been Qualls who gave up the backbreaking double to Lowell, and I still don't understand, seventeen hours later, why you don't bring in your best pitcher to get the guy you most need to retire?
Kudos to Backe, though. He had several chances to fall apart, first after the Lo Duca solo shot, and second after the Moehler "single" in the fifth that put two on with no out. But he was tough, and anytime I watch the guy pitch when he's on, I have trouble figuring out how he could ever be off. Here's to back-to-back successful starts for Brandon. This up and down shit ain't for pitchers with his talent and intensity.