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Matchup Game # 148 vs. Brewers

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Wes Obermueller   Brandon Backe
1 - 3, 4.65    8 - 8, 5.00

The Wild Card race, already tauter than the head of a military snare drum, and more unpredictable than Ricky Williams in the midst of a bad jones, just got stranger.

Going in to the ninth inning down 2 - 0 to Dontrelle Willis and the Florida Marlins, the Philadelphia Phillies dropped a tenspot on the Fish in a seven-hit ninth inning that was aided by four Florida errors. The loss blew a six-game win streak for Willis, and was the first blown save in 28 tries for ex-Astro made good Todd Jones.

A day after The Returned but Wounded Hero in Houston for the first time fashioned for himself an impact upon the playoff race, the Phils made it clear that the Wild Card hunt is not going to get any easier to handicap, not any time soon.

With fifteen games to go, the Big Three will pitch nine times betwen now and the end of the season on October 2nd. Neutral observers have gone into print saying that this alignment of their rotation favors the Astros, but the fact remains that either Backe or Rodriguez are going to have to win a game or two. On a day when the irrationality factor has been ratcheted upward, it seems that the deep Texas stars might be aligned fittingly for the back section of our rotation to pick up the first one of those wins.

After two starts where it was easy to identify both the positives AND the negatives in his game as he returned from the DL, maybe Backe can make the great leap forward tonight.

Injuries can be a bitch, but you've gotta say, they could be bichier for Houston:

Injury Update
When playing without. . . Team Record
Ensberg: 6 - 4
Taveras: 3 - 0
Burke: 2 - 0
Everett: 1- 0
Just for reference, the Astros were 9 - 13 without Berkman, and 64 - 50 without Bagwell.

Doing another one of those wine-tasting things with my lovely fiancee this evening, so please pardon if the usual diary feature is somewhat curtailed or absent.