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Matchup/Game Thread Game # 20 vs.Dodgers 7:05 CST

Brad Penny Fernando Nieve
2 - 0, 1.88 0 - 0, 4.91
Well, I'm just gonna yield to the gut feeling, give in to the emotion. After last night, I don't think any Astro fan can fault me for that. 15 hours of looking at lousy bullpen stats have gotten me slightly sick of the numbers, so I'm not gonna be able to flash any fancy metrics to back up what I'm about to say.

Sabermetricians and aficonados of Fire Joe Morgan, please forgive the absence of hard data as I do the notes from a gut routine.

But the thing is, I'm still not really on the Nieve bandwagon. If there IS a Nieve bandwagon. To be truthful, I think he belongs at Round Rock, and if he HAD to be in the majors at all, he should be in long relief.

Yes, I know your other option is Zeke in the same role we've assigned Fernando, and even I, who have defended Astacio on numerous occasions, have been astounded by how bad Ezequiel's looked in his couple chances so far.

So I'm not really taking issue with the decision-making. You can't. I couldn't. But it doesn't mean the circumstances don't suck.

It's one of the reasons why losing a game you were two outs from winning last night hurts so much: the follow up game, where they hopefully make the statement that this team is gonna keep winning no matter what, is going to be started by a greenhorn. A greenhorn with a good slider, maybe, but a greenhorn nonetheless.

The often-referred to Baseball Gods are dead. Obviously. The Red Sox killed 'em in 2004, and you can tell 'coz of who made the Series in '05.

But you wonder if whatever Capricious Entities have replaced them might not think that the Houston Astros as supplicants are asking just a bit much of them these days.

  • So we want Wandy to be an effective third starter. OK, I can see the Capricious Entities nod, Check. They're fans, too, it seems.
  • So we want Taylor Buchholz, with two years of minor-league disappointment in his wake, to pitch well in his major league trial. The CE's (maybe we can call them the Baseball Fates) shake their heads, but the overhand 12 to 6 decides them, and soon they grant us this boon. Check.
  • And then, our representative (probably Tal Smith, I'm thinking) still prone before them, we ask if maybe they could see Nieve winning some games in the bargain, and the Capricious Entities burst out laughing at our gall, Smith is blown back to Terra Firma, and the entire teetering construct instantly disintegrates.

The moral of this fable? The whole thing might just work if we didn't have to rely on Nieve doing his impersonation of a replacement-level starter for six long weeks. . . .

Ahhh, Shit. Lose the game tonight (and I guess you've figured by now I think we very well could) and you lose the series. And when the series is done, you go out on the road where Biggio doesn't hit, and you still haven't solved the problems with the bullpen, or Preston, and sheesh, there are beginning to be unresolved issues with this team, even as we contemplate that gilded 13 - 6 record.

Or maybe I'm just being neurotic. Maybe Nieve does his best Taylor Buchholz song-and-dance, and drops 7 innings of four or five-hit ball.

Maybe, but I doubt it: the Dodgers have already established that they can wait on a fastball from a guy who's having trouble being consistent with his slider, as rookies and scruffy closers in turmoil often do.

Preston who we all hope is going to be fine is the only Astros to have faced Penny much, and is 6 for 15 off him, with a double and two bombs. Berkman is 3 for 9 with two doubles. Everett is 2 for 6 with a triple.