A rare road win, indeed. Now a sweep at home gets us to the World Series. But it won't be easy. Saturday's matchup pits Roger Clemens against veteran Matt Morris. Morris has been solid throughout his Cardinal career, and has the kind of stuff that could blank our weak-hitting team. We're 6-1 in the last two postseasons at home. With the roof closed, that place will be going crazy.A few stats:
Cardinals vs. Clemens:
Eckstein: 3-for-24, .317 OPS
Edmonds: 12-for-50, 3 homers, 19 Ks, .827 OPS
Pujols: 6-for-21, o XBHs, .686 OPS
Walker: 2-for-14, 0 XBH, .437 OPS
Astros vs. Morris:
Ausmus: 16-for-55, all singles, .400 OBP
Berkman: 20-for-56, 2 HRs, .955 OPS
Biggio: 16-for-69, .622 OPS
Ensberg: 3-for-14, .481 OPS
Everett: 8-for-28, .726 OPS
Lamb; 5-for-14, 3 HRs, 1.509 OPS
Big question: Do you start Chris Burke, who's been on fire, or Mike Lamb, who is 5-for-14 with three homers against Morris? Tough call. I might go with Burke's hot bat, and save Lamb for a crucial PH appearance against Morris.
These Cardinals won't back down. They'll put up runs, even against a master like Clemens. The Astros cannot continue to put up ohfers with men on base. It's nice to move runners along and manufacture runs, but it's nicer to hit two-run doubles and three-run homers. Ensberg and Lane, I'm looking in your direction.
It seems like both these teams are considerably weaker than last year, Offensively for sure. The Astros are without Kent, Beltran and most of Bagwell, while the Cards are missing Scott Rolen. Of course, we have a healthy Pettitte this year, while the Cardinals picked up Mulder. So I guess the adage is true: pitching wins championships.
* Edmonds' at-bat in the fifth was the most intense dual I've seen this postseason. With two on and two out, neither gave an inch. Edmonds knew he couldn't hit Oswalt's low-and-in fastballs, so he refused to swing at them. Oswalt knew that pitch would eventually bring about a strikeout, and despite the umpire's unwillingness to give the call to him, Oswalt kept throwing it. That must be something he picked up from Clemens: Even if you don't get the call, keep throwing your stuff and good things will happen.
* Did anyone hear Backe "miked up" in last night's game? He was talking with Clemens about Eckstein. He said something to the tune of, "Man, this guy's a pest. I don't think I've ever gotten him out." Pretty funny. I wonder why we didn't hear from him again... Backe's usually a pretty emotional and talkative guy.