Astros win, 2-1 over the Pirates. Backe allowed one run on two hits over seven innings and Berkman singled in Taveras twice in the early goings as the Stros maintained their two-game lead over Philly, which won at Atlanta. The good guys have won eight of their last nine games.
The big story around Houston is Hurricane Rita. It has slightly dissipated into a Category 4 storm, but still has 150 mph winds and looks like it's headed right for Galveston. Thankfully, many denizens were alerted and evacuated well in advance. The Storm will probably hit shore late Friday, but hopefully few will be inthe area to witness the destruction.
Backe, a Galveston native, didn't seem to be affected. He was awesome right from the get-go. His change-up, which he added in the off-season, was spot on today. He attacked hitters early and never gave in. He located all his pitches well and didn't walk a batter. With his second consecutive quality start, he's really rounding into the playoff form we witnessed last year. We'll need him to make a few postseason starts, too. With a 43-year-old Clemens and a recently repaired left elbow on Pettitte, we can't afford to start those guys on three days' rest.
The offense took another day off, collecting only five hits and five walks. But it was nice to see us win a low-scoring game without one of our big three on the mound.
Looks like Rusch will start tomorrow against Wandy, then Zambrano on Saturday against Clemens. That'll be a great matchup. Zambrano has been lights out in the second half (8-1, 2.36, 1.03). Rusch has not (2-5, 5.75, 1.66). Let's keep it up. The Cubs won't roll over just because they're out of it. I'm predicting a big series for Morgan Ensberg. We're gonna need him this last week and a half.