|The Team, Collectively|
A single Game Hero was simply impossible to pick. Several readers were kind enough to suggest the bullpen in total, and I might have agreed, if Borkowski had not pitched, or at least had not pitched so poorly. Certainly the DP Qualls induced to nullify the bases loaded one out situation Borks had allowed was heroic.
Dan Wheeler was unquestionably heroic, as well, as his three innings of scoreless extra inning work reminded us of the three stellar and gutsy innings he gave us during The Chris Burke Game.
Chris Sampson pitched 3-2/3 Monday as starter, but came out of the pen in extras, and went another 2-2/3 scoreless here. That's pretty heroic.
Brad Lidge subdued his demons for a night and kept the Pirates down, and Russley stopped the bleeding after Jason was pulled, and Nieve bent but did not break.
Trever Miller earned his first save since 2004, and his first in the NL since June 14, 1999. That alone is almost heroic, never mind how Trever never flinched in retiring Duffy, getting ahead 0 - 2 fuck the bullshit, and bringing the game home with no equivocation.
The bullpen was certainly heroic, and I still remember that Dodger game so I can give Borks the free pass (since we won).
What it comes down to, our starter left after three ineffective innings, and in 11 of the next 12 innings, our multifaceted bullpen did not yield a run. That's pretty goshdarned heroic.
But how can you ignore CatcherBrad's 0 - 2 sac fly to drive in the game-winner? How do you diminish the importance of Luke Scott's two-out, one-strike RBI single to tie the score in the ninth?
Clutch game-tying and game-winning hits are the stuff of heroes.
Heroes do that.
How can you ignore Willy's broken bat basehit to get the ninth-inning rally started? Hmmm, where had I seen THAT one before?
Taveras got on by hook or by crook when he absolutely HAD to. Heroes do that.
Or look at Berkman. It's now a virtual certainty that he will break Jeff Bagwell's club RBI record, but none of the 135+ he will eventually collect will mean more than the two he drove in with his 44th homer on the season, and the 224th on his career. Lamb's double to drive in Taveras was nice, but it drew the score to 6 - 2: still a large deficit. Berkman's blast gave respectability to the idea of an Astro comeback. It reinvigorated a team that had been sloppy up to that point.
Berkman's two-run homer changed the game, and laid the ground work for everything wise and wonderful that would follow. Heroes do that.
For the second time in three days, I found it impossible to single out any one player to honor. The individual contributions were amazing, but the sum of the parts--a 15-inning win after being down five!-- was even more so.
When it happened, the Pujols homer that lifted the Cards to victory seemed almost unbearably disheartening. With the Astros' hitters in the midst of some 1-2-3 innings in extras, on the road, Albert's homer felt like the death of our season.
But by the end of the night, what the Astros--what This Team of Heroes--had accomplished made even his prodigious shot a mere footnote to the main story: the incredible heart, and the plentiful guts, that this Astro team continues to show us fans, and the rest of the baseball world.