Astros win NLDS Game One, 10-5 over Braves
Wow. I expected us to score about 10 runs this entire series. But we got all the timely hits we could have asked for, and everyone did their job well tonight. Biggio set the table with two hits, a sac fly, a sac bunt and a walk. Ensberg drove a run home in four of his at-bats tonight, three of which followed a Berkman walk. In fact, every starter took a walk except for Ausmus and every starter besides Taveras reached base twice.
And there was Pettitte, who allowed only four hits in seven brilliant innings. He only made two mistakes all game, and they both left the yard. He was efficient and at his best when it counted the most: With two on and one out in the fourth, and after Andruw had already slammed a two-run homer, Pettitte induced Astro-killer Brian Jordan into a double play. Good stuff.
Our hitters did a great job early on taking advantage of Hudson's miscues. We saw that he was struggling with his command in the first few innings, and rattled him by taking walks and playing small ball. Pettitte was great at the plate, laying down two sac bunts and hitting a ground rule double for an important late-inning insurance run. Good thing it didn't matter.
This team has struggled mightily recently at getting hits in important situations, but Ensberg showed today that a patient, easy appraoch is the best way to knock in RBIs. Especially when the pitcher displays a lack of command, just sit back and wait for a pitch you can handle. Then put a good swing on it. (Jason Lane, are you taking notes?) It seems everyone took his advice in our five-run eighth inning.
Garner managed this game well. It was odd to see Berkman hitting third again after four months of hitting cleanup, but this combination worked wonders today. As did our 1-2 punch of Biggio and Taveras. I thought we'd bat Ausmus seventh ahead of Everett, but both did well today. Everett nearly hit a homer in the second but was robbed by Jordan. I guess all in all, the exact order doesn't really matter. Especially if everyone's taking walks and hitting singles.
Game Two: Thursday, 8 p.m. EDT. Clemens vs. Smoltz. Yikes. Thirty strikeouts, anyone? Smoltz is definitely a different type of pitcher than Hudson, so we'll have to change our approach against him . I don't expect him to have a command breakdown and start throwing balls to the backstop like Hudson. But I do hope our hitter realize how important it is to get to that Atlanta bullpen. So be patient, work the count, foul off pitches, wait for your pitch and give it a drive.
Smoltz is death on righties, so I expect Lamb to start at first and hit fifth or sixth. Lamb was MONEY in September, hitting .319 / .392 / .609 with five homers in 69 ABs. And lately he's been able to get big hits off great pitchers (Carpenter, Zambrano...)
I hope we saved a few seeing-eye grounders for this game, where hits and walks will be scarce. Biggio and Taveras need to get on board for our big boppers, since I don't expect much from the bottom of the order. I'm going to predict a big game from Lamb and a clutch hit for Lane. He needs one.
J.T. and Jack both agree... we pitch Backe at home on Sunday if we're up 2-1 in the series. If we're down 2-1, we go with Pettitte on three days' rest and Clemens in Game Five. But I'm sure we'll finish this one up with a sweep.