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Matchup/Game Thread at Milwuakee 6:05 CDT

Wandy Rodriguez Chris Capuano
0 - 1, 2.77 2 - 0, 2.81

Last night, as was proper, I wrote a little something about Craig Biggio. That # 7 hit his third career grand slam was news. That Brad Lidge struggled again was not.

And we won the game, after all. Bitching and moaning about bullpen use wouldn't have seemed fitting.

But now that I've got the Biggio tribute out of the way, and before I begin waving my Magic Wandy, I'd like to maybe make a point.

The Brewers countered in the ninth against Lidge. Because Dan Wheeler had thrown three innings over the previous two nights and Chad Qualls had thrown in eight of the Astros' previous 14 games, Garner wanted to use Lidge in a non-save situation to spare Wheeler and Qualls.
                                                 From JJO's Game Story
OK, so Garner wanted to get through the ninth without using the back end of the pen, because Qualls and Wheeler had been used so much lately.

While that doesn't explain why Borkowski or Moehler weren't throwing as Lidge took the mound to begin the ninth inning, it almost sounds reasonable.

But why, may I ask, had Wheeler in particular thrown so many innings over the last two nights? Well, he had a save against the Reds Thursday, but (and here's my point, in case you were looking for it) also because Wheels threw two needless innings Wednesday.

If you recall or even if you don't, Garner's use of Wheeler in the ninth of the first game against Cincy induced panic attacks in me. You've only got so many innings you can get from your closer, and it seemed silly to waste one of those innings when a lesser pitcher could get through.

Later on KE2117 tried to calm me down by saying "when wheeler started the inning, jd just said he hadnt pitched since 4/13 so he would probably pitch the 8th and the 9th" and that mollified me at the time, but looking back now, the whole strategy seems as stupid as it did at the time.

Think back to how you felt last night as Lidge walked the first two guys, and you realized that not only wasn't Wheeler available, no-one had even gotten up in the pen. If Wheeler hadn't thrown two innings Wednesday, the nausea we felt could have been abated by the knowledge that worst comes to worst we've got Wheeler in the hole.

Instead, it was too much Lidge and then Trever Miller--to face a righty! It was a crisis, yes, and it was a crisis of Garner's own making. If Qualls had given up a 3 - 1 single up the middle to Gross, the Brewers would have tied it, and you know the Astros would have had no shot after that. And it would have all been Garner's fault.

Garner's. Not Lidge's.

Fluky singles happen all the time; how did Garner let it get to that point?

For the most part I'm not one to snipe at this decision or the other, because hindsight gives me a rather unfair advantage. But sometimes I really think Garner's management of the bullpen is just really, really poor.

*    *    *    *

So we go for nine of ten tonight. The team's been really playing well, and really getting lucky, too. It's OK to admit it: a little luck is the only way any team wins 8 of 9. There's no shame in it.

I think of Sampson on Wednesday, who left way too many balls up in the zone, but saw the Reds extract only very little payment for his mistakes. And I think of Albers, who was gutsy, but had runners all over the place, who stranded three runners at third in six innings.

So maybe some of this luck we've been pitching in will rub off on Wandy, who sometimes sucks, it is true, but who also often seems as if he can't catch a freaking break from the umpire or from his fielders.

Well, he gets all that run support, but I think you know what I mean.

Anyway, nothing more to say but Wandy Power™!