|John Patterson||Ezequiel Astacio|
|5 - 3, 2.42||2 - 4, 6.33|
Oh man, the Marlins! What an absolutely brutal sweep at the hands of the Rockies last night! Almost inexcusable, really, after they'd gone and put themselves back in the thick of the Wild Card race. If I were a hardcore Marlins fan, I'd probably be near apoplexy right now: to give up a walkoff shot in the opener, and to get beat by Byung-Hyun Kim in the nightcap, well, little wonder if there are gentlemen this afternoon stumbling around in circles through Little Havana in their guayaberas, mumbling to themselves in the Cuban dialect, and stubbing half-lit panatelas out on the forearms. . . the double feature out of Denver they'd watched yesterday was that brutal.
But enough of this glee I take in the Marlins' trainwreck, enough of this schadenfreude. The Astros have problems of their own. After struggling to hit Noah Lowry and Brian freaking Cooper on the roadtrip, the good guys now will attempt to turn it around against a pitcher who has broken through this year to become one of the truly feared hurlers in the NL, feared in the way Roy Oz is feared, or the way (heh-heh) Mark Prior used to be feared. And who, not incidentally, two Sundays ago was able to perfectly silence our puny little astrobats over eight innings at RFK.
Yes, John Patterson is suddenly in demand. Men want to be him, women want to sleep with him. And even Roy Oswalt has a higher ERA.
The Nationals appear to have their rotation in order especially for us, with Patterson, Livan Hernandez ("El Caballo"), and Ryan Drese. 1-2-3, and the Nationals know if they flunk this test, it's probably all over for them. Get swept in Houston, and they should prepare for life in the slag heap where all the other feelgood stories that didn't quite pan out end their days, along with Bernie Kerik, Ashlee Simpson, and Rafael Palmeiro.
So they're counting on their ace Patterson to end that kind of talk immediately, and other than the fact that they've found it very difficult to get him a decision, Patterson has proved himself more than able to shoulder the load as team ace.
With the back end of our rotation set up against the front half of theirs, I thought I might take a look at how the teams do in their cumulative matchups. Averages below are solely against the three pitchers slated to pitch this series.
Astros vs. Patterson, Hernandez, and Drese
|.429||Gary Bennett||C1||Brad Ausmus||.292|
|---||Brian Schneider||C2||Humberto Quintero||.000|
|.500||Nick Johnson||1B||Lance Berkman||.367|
|.111||Jose Vidro||2B||Craig Biggio||.375|
|.138||Cristian Guzman||SS||Adam Everett||.083|
|.333||Vinny Castilla||3B||Morgan Ensberg||.176|
|.214||Preston Wilson||OF1||Chris Burke||.333|
|.333||Brad Wilkerson||OF2||Willy Taveras||.375|
|.167||Jose Guillen||OF3||Jason Lane||.500|
|---||Ryan Church||OF4||Orlando Palmeiro||.222|
|.185||Carlos Baerga||Util/PH||Mike Lamb||.333|
|.074||John Patterson||P1||Ezequiel Astacio||.000|
|.000||Livan Hernandez||P2||Wandy Rodriguez||---|
|---||Ryan Drese||P3||Andy Pettitte||.000|
Specific talking points include the fact that Craig Biggio is 5 for 11 lifetime against Ryan Drese and that Ausmus is 7 for 22 with 2 doubles and a triple (!) against Hernandez, and that only Berkman owns a hit against all three.
Meanwhile, only Junior Spivey for Washington has ever faced Zeke Astacio. Both the hated Cristian Guzman and Carlos Baerga have more than 20 lifetime at bats against Pettitte; they're both carrying BA's under .220, although Baerga's got a couple doubles to his credit.
Lastly, it might be interesting to see whether Livan throws another temper tantrum. Robinson's probably had enough of Hernandez' duff, and more instability could get a damned good pitcher banned in D.C.