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All-Star Wrapup

Even with the added corporate spin of "This Time It Counts," the All-Star Game really doesn't mean all that much to me. Of course, I want to see Astros selected if they deserve it, and I guess it's OK when they do well in the game, but really, it's hard for me to get excited over the whole midsummer classic thang.

But unlike that glorified batting practice session astutely marketed as the Home Run Derby, the game does have a certain amount of relevance, and I did watch almost all of it last night.

So I'll post a little something.

In the morning light, Oswalt's numbers look as bad as Dontrelle Willis', but those who were watching know that Oswalt didn't pitch all that badly. Damon reached on an infield single, then he got ahead of Rodriguez but lost him. David Ortiz' was the big blow off Roy, but the strikeout to Ramirez was nice, and he kept the ball in the infield for the second run scored, so things just kind of blew up on Roy. Smoltz said he didn't want to get caught up in results, but I'm sure Roy thinks that's bullshit. I've got a feeling that on the one hand, he's disappointed that he gave up the two runs, but on the other is glad that he's not gonna have to carry the associated numbers for the rest of the season.

And of course that it didn't cost Houston a loss.

If Roy might've been a little unlucky, Clemens might have gone the other way. Ortiz' flyout against the Rocket was hit very well, but Cabrera did not have far to go. But Anderson and Tejada went mildly and Clemens became the first NL pitcher to retire the AL side in order.

Two innings later, Lidge did the same thing, but much more impressively. In what to my mind was the pitching feat of the game, Lidge got the AL side on nine swinging strikes in only 11 pitches. The victims were Melvin Mora, Mike Sweeney, and Garrett Anderson, and while it wasn't exactly Carl Hubbell territory, the exemplary innning enjoyed by Brad drove home the point that my recent rant on the state of Lidge's health may have more paranoid than might have been required.

I totally missed Ensberg's first at bat. I was in the kitchen grabbing a Gonzo Imperial Porter when they came back from the break and I heard Ensberg's name, and I rushed back into the living room to catch the at-bat, but alas, the first-pitch-swinging Morgan had already been retired.

But even the one pitch one out thing beats striking out to end the game, which is the next thing Ensberg did. I'm sure that as Ensberg was at the plate with two outs in the top of the ninth, having already popped up feebly, and having to face Mariano Rivera, he might have wondered whether maybe he should have gone to Lake Tahoe after all. . . .

I have no doubt that Oswalt will return to an All-Star tilt, and Ensberg certainly will have a shot, so even the bad parts of the story line will have a chance to be improved.