Great team win today. Clemens didn't have his best stuff and only registered one punchout, but he got the job done. He went six innings giving up two runs on six hits and two walks. Both runs came on sac flies after consecutive singles. He worked out of jams several times, a testament to his experience and ability to come up with big pitches when they're needed.
Offensive MVP: Mike Lamb! He hit a two-run homer and a double that later led to a run. I think the double traveled about 100 feet further than the homer. He had good stats against Morris coming in, so props to Garner for getting him into the lineup.
Defensive MVP: Chad Qualls! Staked to a 4-2 lead in the seventh, he retired Luna, Eckstein, Taguchi, Pujols, Edmonds and Walker in order. That's dominance.
Interesting changes in the lineup made by Garner. Burke played center and batted second. Ausmus finally moved up to the seventh spot ahead of Everett. All three went 1-for-4.
The Cardinals suffered another injury in the game: Lane, going first-to-third on Ausmus' single, banged knees with Abraham Nunez. Nunez wasn't great filling in for Rolen this year, but he was 4-for-10 in the NLCS. We took advantage of Hector Luna's inexperience there on the next play. Everett grounded to third, but Luna's throw home was high and wide, allowing Lane to score. And that fourth run was HUGE.
No rest for the weary: We play tomorrow at 3 p.m. EDT, Backe versus Suppan. Backe's about the most emotional pitcher I've ever seen, and he's always been a much better hurler at home. He hasn't been great this year, but you just never know when he;s going to turn it on and go one-hitter on us. So we'll see. The stats:
Astros vs. Suppan:
Berkman: 8-for-22, 2 HRs, 1.254 OPS
Vizcaino: 13-for-21 (!), 4 doubles, 1.446 OPS
Lamb: 3-for-17, .412 OPS
Palmeiro: 0-for-17, .105 OPS
Everett: 4-for-9, 1 HR, 1.278 OPS
Cardinals vs. Backe:
Eckstein: 4-for-6, 2 doubles, 1.778 OPS
Edmonds: 2-for-9, .607 OPS
Grudzielanek: 4-for-8, 1.181 OPS
Pujols: 3-for-10, 3 HRs, 1.662 OPS
Walker: 3-for-7, 1 HR, 1.500 OPS
Will Viz get a start at short tomorrow? Hard to say. While he's had a ton of success against Suppan, he still sucks. Hard. I think it's an obvious choice to start Berkman at first, Burke in left and Taveras in center. But with Garner playing musical chairs, you never know.