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Matchup/Diary Game # 101 vs. Phillies

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Rogér Clemens   Vicente Padilla
8 - 4, 1.40   5 - 8, 5.52

It looks like a mismatch on paper, and it may end up that way in actuality as well, but it's Roger Clemens tonight vs. the only major league pitcher rumored to possess a "flotilla," whatever that is.

Vicente Padilla may have the ERA in the fives, but like most of the Phillies' staff, he's been pretty good lately, having gone 2 - 1 in July with a 2.74. But the righthander who originally came to the Phillies in the Curt Schilling deal is nothing if not streaky: the Phillies have won his last three starts, and he lost the three before that. Over his past ten, he's thrown shutout ball over seven in one start, and given up 5 over 3-2/3 in another.

So who knows which pitcher we're gonna see, but the fact is, Clemens at his least effective is probably twice as good as Padilla at his best.

I'm usually not so cocky, but I am expecting the sweep to be concluded tonight.

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Things are a lot less settled for Thursday. Already looking at a matchup of Brandon Backe vs. Pedro Martinez, the official website is suggesting that Backe may have to go on the DL due to a strained intercostal muscle suffered during side work, and that it might end up being Ezequiel Astacio who does the thing mano a mano con Pedro. Backe would have been less than a sure thing vs. the formidable Martinez, but Zeke becomes the longest of the long shots if he's got to go tomorrow night. It may not do any good, but just in case, we Astros fans should root very very hard for the Mets to capitulate to the Rockies once again this evening, and yield the broom to the Blake Street Babies. Whatever limited shot we have Thursday will be maximized against a stone cold Mets club.

If you hadn't heard, the minor leaguer of the week so far is probably Koby Clemens, who earned the Apply League Star of the Day by hitting a grand slam and driving in five during Greeneville's 12 - 5 victory over Johnson City Monday. Clemens was hitting .360 through that game, and Garth Iorg has now also joined the club. Greeneville, though deeply mired in last place, well behind the nearly uncatchable Elizabethton Twins, has won four straight.

Purpura has begun to drop trial balloons suggesting that the Astros may not make a move at all both with the Chronicle and at the official site. While I am convinced that this team, if bolstered by a bat, has as good a chance as anybody, the penalty for overpaying now can have repercussions for years to come. So while stressing the need to be aggrssive if presented with anything workable, I'd rather we err on the side of caution, and I take it that Justice and McClain agree.

And lastly, ESPN has posted a small featurette that includes excerpts from a short interview with Jeff Bagwell, in which he claims that his chances of playing again are "50-50" and that even at the outside, he sees nothing more than pinch-hitting duty for himself this year. Sometimes hard to read the rather unemotional Bagwell, but I get the feeling his rehab has been going maybe a little slow for his tastes.