After a 6-7 homestand against the Cubs and Brew Crew, we fell out of the Wild Card lead. But thanks to a 6-2 win over Woody Williams and the Padres, we're back in front of the Phils and Marlins, albeit by a half game.
A couple good things: it's nice to see us win games when our pitchers don't have their A game. Both Pettitte and Oswalt struggled a bit, having to escape jams in multiple innings. We'll say they both brought their B-plus game. It's nice to see we can win when our pitchers give up a few runs.
It's also nice to see us scoring runs when either Ensberg or Berkman doesn't contribute (Ensberg didn't play in Sunday's 8-3 win over the Brewers). Burke has brought it lately. He went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer and two doubles in that win. He's slugging .529 in 51 August at-bats. Willy T has been tearing it up lately. He has a pair of hits in his last three games, and his August line -- .337 / .382 / .361 -- is very good for a leadoff man.
And it's nice to see Berkman finally regain some power. He hit only his 13th homer yesterday and brought his OPS back over .900 with a pair of doubles.
Bagwell's been taking batting practice, and apparently feels comfortable with his swing. But I wonder if he can possibly play first while lacking the ability to throw a baseball. I guess it can't hurt us that bad...
Dierker reported during the game yesterday that Backe's coming back and Wandy's heading to the bullpen. It was a hard choice to make between Wandy and Zeke (After all, Wandy's won EIGHT GAMES!), but both JAck and I think it was the right decision. Their stats are very comparable:
Wandy: 90.2 IP, 5.96 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 62 Ks, 42 BBs, 101 hits, 16 homers
Zeke: 58.0 IP, 6.21 ERA, 1.59, 50 Ks, 19 BBs, 73 hits, 19 homers
In short, Wandy walks too many but Zeke gives up too many hits, particularly homers. Wandy has been more consistent, pitching further into the game. But Zeke has gone out and shut down teams on a number of occasions. He's got better potential for the here and now. Plus it is nice to have another lefty in the pen.
Biggio is awesome at home, with a .942 OPS. Burke, meanwhile, has a better OPS on the road (.691), which makes you realize how bad Biggio has been away from the Juicebox.
Jack has some ideas for the offseason. They involve Brian Giles and Johnny Estrada.
Incredible matchup tonight: Clemens vs. Peavy. Lots of Ks. If the over/under is 20, I'm taking the over.