After a fantastic finish to the first half -- sweeping the Dodgers and Padres -- the AStros climbed back to one game over .500 for the first time in a long, long time. I swear we were 15-30 like two weeks ago. No mas.
Unfortunately, we had to stop in St. Louis this weekend and the results so far have been agonizing. Friday night's game was the best game of baseball I've seen in a long time. (Well, the best since I went to Wrigley for the Cubs-Pirates game that afternoon -- Jerry Hairston hit a grand slam off the fat of the foul pole -- it was sweet!) Check it out. I roll into Piece, home oif Chicago's best pizza, about 9 p.m. Stros are down 2-1 and Izzy is coming in. Game over, right? No. Palmeiro (who is having a fine year as our fourth OF, and probably should be startng over Burke) slashes a double to right. Ausmus bunts him over. Lamb up, two quick strikes. High and outside pitch from Issy and Lamb pokes it over to left field just deep enough for the run to score. Textbook.
Thirteenth inning: Lamb up again with two on, two out. Bloops a single that scores a run. Game over, right? Well, Russ Springer agaisnt the heart of the Cards lineup doesn't sound too safe. Springer walks Eckstein but gets two quick strikes on Edmonds. At 2-2, Springer throw an inside breaking ball that Edmonds chases and whiffs. One down! At this point, I almost want to walk Pujols. Larry Walker's hitting cleanup, amybe he can bounce into the GIDP. Garner elects to bring in Chad Harville who's throwing heat, 97 mph. Pujols fouls a few back, then pops up to left. Except the ball keeps going deeper and deeper.
I thought there was something suspicious when Pujols dropped his bat and started walking to first. I didn;t know why Garner wanted to bring in a flame-thrower to face Pujols, the guy crushes fastballs. But when Harville dropped his head I knew something was awry...
Taveras and -- I think it was Berkman in left now -- converge near the dugout in left-center. Their eyes are glued on the ball and Berkman's yelling at TAveras to take it. Taveras takes a few small steps towards the wall and leaps up and over. He twists his wrist back and tries to backhand the ball with his left hand. And I swear if I didn't see the ball hit his glove and disappear for a split second. Then the ball dropped into the bullpen for the walkoff home run.
I was crushed. But what a game. Tonight I couldn't watch the game. I was busy playing beach ultimate all day. Which rocked. But apparently Oswalt gave up 4 runs (three on a Walker homer). Marquis pitched eight, serving up a two-run Ensberg blast in the first (Is it too soon to start taking him for granted?). But that was it. Ensberg also hit into a costly double play with two on and one out. We only managed six hits and never really threatened.
Clemens goes tomorrow against -- gulp! -- Chris Carpenter, the NL All-Star Game starter. MIght go another 13 innings, this time scoreless.