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Game Heroes, 65 - 68

As Laurence Simon astutely notes, Aubrey Huff is not your Game Hero for grounding out in an RBI situation. It's patently ridiculous.

Better to go with Bidge, who had a double, and the gamebreaking hit in the ninth, that set the Astros up so well that even Huff's groundout could end the game.

But even better to go with Willy Taveras, who did everything you possibly could to affect the outcome of a ballgame without actually getting on base.

The Tenares Rifle made the throw of the year in the fourth, when he nailed Cirillo at third from 360 feet away, at the foot of the Astros bullpen fencing. That Cirillo couldn't believe he was out, you might expect: whenever a runner tries for the second extra base, they are taking a calculated gamble. What shocks is that he was out by three steps. It wasn't even close. That throw, which Lamb had to take maybe all of one step to glove, prevented a man on third, one out situation for Clemens.

Next for Willy was the sixth, when he got caught playing shallow by a well-hit Dave Bush flyball. A race ensued, Willy vs. the ball.

It was no contest, with Willy ending the race with no room at all to spare.

If he hadn't already done so with the two plays I've mentioned, Taveras truly saved the game in the seventh. After Nix reached on a third strike to the backstop, and Mench was semi-intentionally walked to load the bases, David Bell got to 3 - 2 and then hit a rapidly sinking liner into short center. Willy came into my picture as I watched at home out of nowhere, and he didn't save a run on the play. He saved two, and given the final margin of victory, you can see why he's gaining mention here.

Unfortunately, a day after his hitting streak ended, his onbase streak bit the dust as well at 31, and Willy never gave himself an opportunity to try to steal a much-needed base.

While it's tough to ignore the D Taveras played tonight, it's also tough to give the Game Hero to someone who didn't even reach base.

So we'll give the other half of tonight's award to Roger Clemens, because if Rocket doesn't pitch his ass off through seven, Bidge and Taveras and yes, Huff, are doing their little bits in a losing cause.

Clemens kind of ran out of gas at the end there, but he was at his best through much of this game, and he had Billy Hall tied up in freaking knots. As well as Roger has pitched, this was only the second game since he's arrived where he's given up no runs.

He continues to amaze, and the win is nice, but it would have been a lot better if Clemens could have had it.

Willy Taveras Roger Clemens
  • Three putouts, one outfield assist
  • Four web gems
    • 7.0 IP, 3 H, 9 K, 2 BB, 0 ER
    • 78 Game Score is his second-highest on the Year