|5 - 4, 4.61||6 - 7, 3.13|
The Astros go for their first five-game win streak of the year, and face their first righty since Wednesday today. All told, as Richard Justice seems to both report and exemplify, everything seems pretty optimistic a day after the game fell apart in the top of the ninth, only to be put back together in the bottom of the frame.
My SABR compatriot, and interview subject here, Bill Gilbert, reports that both the Hillenbrand double off Lidge in the ninth, and the Hinske single that followed one pitch later, were 97 mile an hour fastballs.
I'm not surprised. Lidge's troubles all flow from the inability to either locate, or get that sharp biting action on, his slider.
I'm sure that the Toronto hitters will be just as glad to sit on Lidge's fastball today, should they be presented with a tired Lidge at the end of the game. I'll say it now, do not use Lidge today. Wheeler is rested and more than capable of filling in.
Gilbert also says he spent an inning with Tal Smith, and that Smith himself is "encouraged" by the state and the direction of the club.
Well, if they get to .500, hopefully Smith will be influential in getting McLane to buy us a hitter. . . .
The fact is, I can't stop talking about Taveras. He was 3 for 5 last night, taking his average to .288, and is now 10 for his last 15. That .288, coincidentally, is the same batting average currently held by Carlos Beltrán. The Roadrunner has the higher OPS, though. Willy also trumps the 100-Million Dollar Kid in stolen bases (by a large margin), in fielding percentage, and in range factor. And the runs are very close.
Beltran is of course a wonderful player, and I'd love to have him and Taveras both. I don't take delight in Beltrán's "struggles," but take them more as confirmation that he is not the player we saw during the playoffs last year. Hell, no-one is.
Beltrán is the player who hit .258 last summer for us, with only 7 of his homers coming at Minute Maid. Did you see him steal the homer from the Angels last night?
Anyway, Willy T is fast building a home for himself in the Majors, not as a "rookie," but as a player you need to defend, and one with a distinctive tool set. You are beginning to be able to make favorable comparisons between him and established veterans.
I hope that we can soon do the same kinds of things with Chris Burke. . . .
Taveras never really tried to steal against the two lefties the Blue Jays had thrown up. I'm thinking that with a righty today, he may very well give it a try today.