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Matchup/Game Thread Game # 161 at Braves

Andy Pettitte Lance Cormier
14 - 13, 4.30 4 - 5, 5.00

Thought we were gonna get some help this afternoon, but Spiezio's two out triple in the eighth ended that thought.

One chance in sixteen, is what it works out to. The Astros win both their games and the Cardinals lose tomorrow and Monday.

In the face of these long odds, the Astros have chosen to bring back Pettitte on short rest, despite the fact that the previously scheduled Chris Sampson has an 0.66 ERA for the month. I was more than comfortable with the idea of Sampson going tonight.

This is going to be a difficult game to win this evening. Not that I know what it's like to be a major league player, but it seems to me that focus and concentration--which were only imperfectly kept yesterday--will be three times as difficult to maintain in the face of the simple fact that most likely, the game you're playing won't matter.

In a way, though, it WILL matter. A victory tonight clinches a winning record, and enables me, you, whoever is out there who loves the Astros, to say that that for three straight years, we have been alive on the final day of the season.

And a victory tonight and tomorrow clinches a divisional showing no lower than second, for the twelfth time in thirteen years.

These are things that a Cardinal victory tomorrow cannot take away from the team, and I very much hope and to a certain degree expect the players to perform tonight as if these possibilities were important to them.

It would be absurd to try to use the division title as motivation tonight. But if the Houston Astros can clinch the winning record tonight, and clinch second place tomorrow, who knows? Maybe, just maybe, they'll open that second-place Wonka Bar they've purchased, and find the Division Champs Golden Ticket inside.