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Preview/Matchup/Diary Game # 134 vs. Cardinals


Mark Mulder   Ezequiel Astacio
15 - 6, 3.74    2 - 6, 6.03

I have indicated in correspondence to assorted colleagues throughout the country over the last twenty-four hours that I am certain Ezequiel Astacio will be "decimated" by the Cardinals, and that "unless you get off on watching your team consistently on the wrong end of a score involving double-digits," alternate methods of entertainment may be necessary for fans with weak stomachs this evening.

One of those alternate forms might could be the Corpus Christi Hooks, who are starting Brandon Backe at home tonight, and for whom Jeff Bagwell will continue his rehab this eve. Backe is expected to return to the parent club for a September 7 start in Philadelphia, so a good outing tonight (against the San Antonio Missions, as it happens) will give all concerned a very welcome confidence boost.

A spectator at Whataburger Field (or a listener on KOUL 103.7 FM, for that matter) will also be treated to game three of the Bagwell rehab. Bags reached base three times last night, and had an RBI, engendering I'm sure some confidence boosts of his own. The official site had indicated that tonight might be the last game in the rehab for Jeff, but that don't seem right. . . . I guess we'll see on that one.

Also, it might take something next to a miracle for them to squeak in, but the Hooks are not eliminated from the Texas League playoffs, not just yet.

So it'll very likely be much more interesting down in Corpus Christi, baseball-wise, than it'll be in Houston this fine Friday night.

Blowouts get kind of boring, dontcha know? The Cardinals are scary enough, and then throw Astacio on the fire--who knows how bad it might get.

Astacio has actually given up three runs over his last ten, which doesn't sound so bad, but let's face it: Ezequiel almost always seems on the verge of exploding, big-time. It's as common an occurrence as Dierker's mitigating comments on Astacio's "good stuff." Or the insults he throws at Wandy, for that matter.

Not that I defend Wandy's ERA, but I WILL defend his record. Whereas with Astacio the ERA and the record are much better mates . . .

Anyway, the good news is that with Backe returning, tonight is very likely Astacio's last start for Houston in 2005. Hold your applause.

The expected Houston loss tonight will render even that much more earth-shatteringly important the Carpenter-Clemens matchup en mañana. Think BIG.

Walter Johnson - Smokey Joe Wood big.
Sugar Ray Robinson - Jake LaMotta big.
Namath - Unitas big.
Kerry - Bush big.

I mean big, people.

I'll try to intersperse status reports from the Corpus Christi game as I get them, and I think Bill Brown should be doing the same.

OPS vs. Each Other
vs. Astros '05
Cardinal Pos Astro OPS
vs. Cards '05
.379 Yadier Molina C1 Brad Ausmus .488 x
x 1.400 Einar Diaz C2 Raul Chavez 1.200
x 1.014 Albert Pujols 1B Lance Berkman .775
x .739 Mark Grudzielanek 2B Craig Biggio .600
.718 David Eckstein SS Adam Everett .736 x
.200 Abraham Nuñez 3B Morgan Ensberg 1.081 x
x .971 Larry Walker OF1 Jason Lane .883
.692 Jim Edmonds OF2 Willy Taveras .791 x
.389 So Taguchi OF3 Chris Burke .636 x
--- John Rodriguez OF4 Orlando Palmeiro .502 x
.282 John Mabry Util/PH Mike Lamb .653 x
x .143 Mark Mulder P1 Ezequiel Astacio ---
x .222 Chris Carpenter P2 Roger Clemens .167
x 1.736* Jason Marquis P3 Wandy Rodriguez .000
* This is not a misprint