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Matchup/Diary Game # 114 vs. Nationals

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Ryan Drese   Andy Pettitte
7 - 11, 5.55    9 - 8, 2.64

I don't read Rob Neyer all that much anymore as ESPN's website becomes more and more for pay, but I did catch his chat earlier today, and of course, the pointy ears were raised, and the saliva started flowing when I saw that one of his questioners was wondering about the season-long viability of the Astros:

I think all the also-rans in the East, with the exception of the Nationals, are perfectly capable of challenging the Astros. Like you, I'm not sure Houston's lineup is as strong as it needs to be. And Clemens can't pitch like this all season . . . can he?
Even if we beat the Nationals tonight, I think they have done what they needed to do in Houston which was NOT GET SWEPT. Their bats appear to have caught fire, and certainly the look of the team with Nick Johnson in the lineup is more powerful.

Sure, they'd have to get hot again to stay in contention, but it's looking like that may just happen. And Patterson and Hernandez are reasons all by themselves that Washington should be precluded from playoff consideration at the considerate observer's great risk.

What I can't figure out about the Nationals is, why do they get denigrated for winning more than they should? Last I heard, winning more than you should was a good thing. Heck, that's what the Astros have done, and you know I'm not discounting them . . . .

But really, and especially now that the news about Thome being out for the remainder has broken, it is the Marlins that are the most likely to be in the WC race late. I had them winning the East in my preseason predictions, and it's still a little shocking to me that they're not in first place, even now. Save maybe their bullpen, they have no weakness, and although Willis, Burnett and Beckett are not Clemens Oswalt and Pettitte, it's pretty close. The September four-gamer in Houston against the Fish is gonna be huge with a capital H, a capital U, a capital G, and you get the picture.

And Mr. Neyer: Of course Clemens can continue pitching the way he has. The Astros play game 115 tonight, after all. Flukes and aberrations ended 50 games ago.

Right before Clemens' recent start in Arizona, I went over to Arizona Snake Pit and basically started talking smack about how Clemens was not mortal, how there was no way the D-Backs were gonna hit him, etc.

I was made to look the fool when Chad Tracy hit that first inning shot, and as I sat in front of my computer screen in shock from the early blow, I began considering Roger's age all over again. There really WAS no reason why Clemens couldn't get hit by the D-Backs, or any other team, for that matter. After all, the man is 43 years old. It's just natural.

But then Clemens retired 19 of his last 22, not only getting the Astros the win, but also pulling my own foot out of my mouth. Not that this is going to devolve into any kind of examination, but Clemens has been so good, you wonder why there aren't more steroids rumors about HIM. But the point is, with more than two-thirds of the season gone, it's of more questionable logic to assume that Clemens will stop pitching as well as he has, than it is to figure he'll just continue. . . .