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Matchup/Diary Game # 103 vs. Mets

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Kris Benson   Wandy Rodriguez
7 - 3, 3.14   5 - 4, 6.18

So Clemens was talking about how he shouldn't miss a game with the back spasms, how he'll just pitch through it, and Wandy gets the worst of it tonight in the pitching comparison. The thoroughly reviled Carlos Beltràn is still in town, and the starting pitcher for the Mets tonight is both having a pretty good season AND is known to have a pretty, top-heavy wife.

Big deal.

What I'd like to do if I could, is resuscitate last night's game for a brief while more.

'Cause it was absolutely amazing. Thursday's walkoff win was example number one-A among the evidence I bring to the table in the case Why I love Baseball. The game is ineffable, and it routinely makes no fucking sense at all. Anything can happen, like Bud Smith pitching a no-hitter, or like Mark Whiten hitting four homers in a game, or like Ezequiel freaking Astacio hanging with Pedro Martinez, for one statistically improbable and freakily charged evening.

And all those strange oddities add up to one incredibly beautiful game. Listen: one day, an obscure kid from La Romana or maybe Maracaibo, just up from Colorado Springs, or Portland, is going to hit safely in a game and then do it again in 56 more after that. The game as it plays itself out daily does not just suggest that this will happen, it guarantees it. And you can do all your numerical studies--just as I present all my ISO's and RC27's before every series lately showing how the Mets or the Phillies or the Nationals are just plain better hitters than the Astros--to prove that DiMaggio's streak won't happen again in the lifetime of this galaxy, but you'd be just flat wrong. The nearly impossible happens all the freaking time in baseball, and that is the precise reason why its intricately plotted melodrama is so fascinating to me.

Two months ago, my beloved Houston Astros couldn't hit a beachball with a two by four, and a certain Hall of Fame pitcher was having to deny rumors that he was going to be packed up and sent to Arlington with the next tractor-trailerload of business machine parts. They were 15 games under .500, had an aging hitting star who'd just given up on his season because of a severe injury, and a younger hitting star who couldn't seem to get righted after returning from one.

Exactly the team you'd figure would win 40 of their next 57, right?

But of course, figuring plays no part in it. You can't figure it, and you certainly can't predict it. I'd thought the Astros' improbable run of late might have begun to taper off a bit last night; instead it seemed to take on additional jet fuel. And that may carry over to tonight, or it might not. It's hard to tell; we'll have to watch. . . .