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Matchup Game # 82

No picture available with Reyes in a Padre uniform
No picture available that shows Backe chilling
Dennys Reyes   Brandon Backe
3 - 1, 3.93 6 - 6, 5.29

I had no internet connection again on the Fourth, and since it's obvious that Comcast has no interest in solving the problem, I'm gonna have to do the dialup backup thing.

Members of the SportsBlogs Nation DO require 24-hour connectivity, after all.

Anyway, since I couldn't check the scores online, I was reduced to doing so while wading through all the bullshit on SportsCenter. Because of that, I caught John Kruk and some other schmuck going over the Astros highlights. Kruk was doing the voiceover as Biggio's homer smacked off the wall forty feet above the Crawford Boxes, and he told us how the Astros just had to score some runs, that their beleaguered pitchers just couldn't win with this level of support. This as the Astros had just taken the lead game of a four-game home set against a division leader. . . .

Earth to Kruk: Update Your Files. That Astros Can't Score story is so very May.

Not that the Astros are the '27 Yankees or anything, but there were six National League teams that scored fewer runs than the Astros in June, and thirteen who won fewer games. Oswalt has won five straight decisions, and Clemens is 4 - 0 over his last six starts. There IS a story going down in Houston, but it's not quite as simple as the one Kruk and those who think like him were briefed on six weeks ago. The story is still playing out, but recently, it has had to do with ninetieth-percentile pitching matched with 30th-percentile hitting.

Plus one MVP candidate.

We'll see how the story plays out; the Astros may finish 20 under, but at the same time you can't deny that the team has won lately, and won often. I don't want to get carried away, and compare this team to last year's, because it's different strengths, certainly different weaknesses, different personnel, but it's a simple fact that a 5 - 2 stretch from here until the break will match the '04 team's record. It's a simple fact that the Astros are a game out of second in the Central and six out of the wild card.

These are facts, this is the story as it stands right now, and reporting the story as it stood six weeks ago makes no sense.

So Brandon Backe can give the team quite a nice jolt by pitching well tonight. He looked very bad overall in the rain-suspended game at the Reds, and worse than you'd think simply going by his 3-2/3 4H 2ER line. Once again, the walks were a huge problem for him, and this has now gone well beyond a home/road thing. I sincerely hope that Hickey has identified whatever mechanical flaw it is that has been introduced into Backe's motion and has gotten him so bollixed.

And that they're working on it.

If Brandon does make some improvement tonight, he'll have a chance, 'coz it's not like we're facing Dontrelle Willis. Dennys Reyes is making a spot start for the recently injured Adam Eaton, and while his numbers right now are OK, his last start wasn't.