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Matchup Game # 157 at Cardinals



Roy Oswalt   Matt Morris
18 - 12, 2.91    14 - 9, 3.97

That's a pretty epic collapse last night by the Phils, making the shot given up by Gallo late Sunday look like it's all in a day's work.

Not that the Astros have been perfect or anything, but the rolling list of Phillies goats besmirching their generally outstanding play down the stretch is at this point up to three names: Bell, Wagner, and now Urbina.

Or is it Charlie Manuel? Our beloved ex-closer knows where he stands in regard the blame game. And no, we're not making no shit up.

I've spent the last fifteen minutes trying to explain what the Phillies' loss means to the 'Stros' playoff hopes, and I can't seem to nail that bugger down in three conditionals or less. But trust me, it's good, and the Astros have a better shot now than they did yesterday. Although it's easy to underestimate the Phillies' chances (both Manuel and ESPN have done so over the last 24 hours), let's just say, if you spent some time trying to grab NLDS tickets today, your time may not have been wasted. . . .

Anyway, back to the series at hand: the Cardinals staff (or at least that portion that the Astros will see) appears to be taking a rather large dump this September. Matt Morris comes into tonight's game 0 - 3 for the month with a 4.37, and Chris Carpenter will enter tomorrow's game with a decent 2 - 1 record, but with a ghastly 5.40 ERA.

Furthermore, the Cardinals are only 12 - 11 for the month, and are 13th in slugging for September. I have no doubt that the Cardinals will return to their semi-juggernaut selves for the playoffs, but the fact is, they've not been playing well recently.

I'd never take the Cards for granted--they've dogged us way too many times for that--but this isn't about taking them for granted, this is about saying this is a winnable series

And it is. Not saying that Astrokillahs like Edmonds or Pujols may not wreck our party with additional ridiculous stunts, or that even someone like So Taguchi might not pull off some Pattersonesque game-saving snowcone shit, but yeah, not only can the Astros SPLIT the series, they can WIN it.

Morris beat the 'Stros in his second start of the season, going 5 while giving up two at St. Louis on April 24. That game, which the Cardinals ended up winning 8 - 5 after some shaky relief on both sides, was the only time until today that Morris has gotten the nod vs. Houston.

Oswalt, of course, lost to the Cards Opening Day, and once other without a win, giving up ten runs over 12 innings, which ciphers out to a less than imposing 7.50 ERA. But he's a mean sonuvabitch, and I'm guessing he'll do just fine in this important game.

I will be attending Jason Molina's first South Florida appearance this evening, as his band's most recent and electric incarnation, the Magnolia Electric Company, will be playing at the legendary Churchill's Hideaway, only 25 minutes down Interstate 95 from my Astro-domain. Last time the band was in Florida, I drove four hours to freaking Orlando, and the band only played six songs, so I think the dude owes me big time.

But what all this means to you, gentle reader, is that I probably won't be keeping a diary for tonight's game. You can be sure, however, that I will be looking for a TV screen with the ESPN rolling somewhere within the dingy pub.

OPS vs. Each Other
vs. STL
Astro Pos Cardinal OPS
vs. HOU
x .593 Brad Ausmus C1 Yadier Molina .473
.750 Raul Chavez C2 Einar Diaz 1.400 x
.614 Mike Lamb 1B Albert Pujols 1.020 x
.594 Craig Biggio 2B Mark Grudzielanek .656 x
.674 Adam Everett SS David Eckstein .681 x
x .962 Morgan Ensberg 3B Abraham Nuñez .553
1.100 Lance Berkman OF1 Reggie Sanders 1.634 x
.839 Jason Lane OF2 Larry Walker .916 x
.615 Willy Taveras OF3 Jim Edmonds .829 x
x .608 Chris Burke OF4 So Taguchi .433
x .625 Eric Bruntlett Util/PH Hector Luna .200
x .333 Roy Oswalt P1 Matt Morris .000
x .333 Brandon Backe P2 Chris Carpenter .167
Wild Card Today
Teams Pitching
New York Victor
7 11 4.10
Philadelphia Jon
16 12 4.23