When Young doubled to start the eighth, I was positive we were going to lose this game. And when Berkman dropped the fly ball, I was certain that the collapse was gonna be final, and humiliating. But Qualls kept his head even as the fielders around him were losing theirs, and Wheeler was absolutely rock solid. He looks like a closer, doesn't he?
Exluded from consideration for Game Hero were Brad Ausmus, for his atrocious work stopping pitches, Adam Everett for his two horrible throws, Craig Biggio for his terrible throw and that awful decision he made to be polite while the runner passed.
Also not considered were Lance Berkman, not only for his inability to catch a ball then transfer it in one motion, but for his recent propensity to yak it up with opposing runners while playing first base. Gallo and Harville were also ineligible, because it appeared they had some kind of constitutional inability to throw strikes on consecutive pitches.
There were probably 15 reasons why we should have lost the game, and I guess that's a good reason to be happy we won it.
But, as we get closer and closer to the goal of wild-card race baseball, two nasty questions reared their butt-ugly heads this evening:
1) What's up with Pettite? "Tightness in his elbow" is what Brownie said. "Day to day" chimed in Dierker, while sounding somewhat unconcerned. Am I missing something? Given this pitcher's history with us, and given how it's starting to look like the team's performance in late July and August might even matter, I get terrible awful vibes from this news. Notice how the game started turning dark as soon as Andy left? I'd hate to see that happen to our season.
2) If that's not bad enough, why no Lidge tonight? He looked great last night, and passed the ten-pitch audition Garner and Hickey set him up with. Shit, Garner said that it was the best Brad had thrown all year. All I can do is assume a setback, which has gotta mean the DL. How come, knowing John Franco was gonna get the axe, we allowed Tom Martin to go? How come we haven't signed Mike Stanton?
Taveras, Burke, Berkman, Biggio, Oswalt, Clemens, etc., etc., have done their part. They took a nightmare in development, and by working hard, turned it around. Now the front office needs to step in. They still need to get a slugging outfielder, and now--if the news with Pettitte and Lidge is as bad as it seems--it looks like they're going to need to pick up some pitching help.
Management needs to step up. The players--who you can tell have worked goddamned hard--and the fans--who never deserted the team even when its play was most closely described as "disgraceful"--already have.