Woulda Coulda Shoulda
What a frustrating loss.
The game was a good one, I have to admit that much. But a 2 run lead with 5 innings to go should have been a Cardinals W. However, the Cardinals bullpen, which is supposed to be a strength, didn't get the job done. Meanwhile, the Astros bullpen, which is supposed to be a weakness, managed to pitch 3 shutout innings, including 1 inning from someone not named Lidge. A couple of comments.
He was upset before the series started because he was only going to get one start. And as Tony was coming out to pull him in the 5th inning tonight, Marquis said "un-freaking believable." Of course, he didn't say freaking, but I would like to keep our site rated G. I don't know if he was upset with himself, or upset with the lack of confidence Tony was showing in him during that situation. Whatever the case, I don't think La Russa was wrong to give him the hook at that point, based upon his other post-season start, along with his last 4 during the regular season.
Marquis was easily the Cardinals 2nd best starter this season. However, he threw 201.1 innings, despite never throwing more than 140 innings previously as a professional. I do think that Marquis is fatigued, and likely won't be very effective the rest of the post-season should the Cards advance to the World Series. Not only that, but I read a report recently that claimed that pitcher's throwing 40 innings more than the season before are prime for injuries during the next season. And to top it all off, we know that Marquis did not get along with Leo Mazzone and Bobby Cox in Atlanta. After this week, will he no longer get along with Duncan and La Russa, either? The potential for injuries and displeasure with management next year could play into the Cardinals planning for the 2005 campaign.
With all that being said - if the Cards advance to the World Series, is it time to put Haren in the rotation, taking Marquis out?
Hats off to them - they got the job done. I don't know how Oswalt kept it going, as he obviously didn't have his stuff tonight. But he got through 6 innings giving up 5 runs, which was just enough to keep the Astros in a position to win. With that being said - the Astros pitching situation still is not in great shape for the new 3 game series.
Game 5 - Brandon Backe gets the start. He was actually pretty tough in Game 1, and this time around he should be able to go deeper. But is Lidge going to be available for a third consecutive 2-inning outing? It's unlikely.
Game 6 - Roger Clemens on 3 days' rest, after pitching 7 innings and 116 pitches in Game 3. There is an outside chance, however, that the Astros might actually go with Munro in this start. Why? This is complete speculation on my part, but if the Astros were to win Game 5, Game 6 would not be a must win for them. Munro starting would allow them to follow with Clemens in Game 7 on regular rest, with Oswalt ready in the pen.
Game 7 - Roy Oswalt on 3 days' rest, after having an unimpressive outing tonight. If this does in fact happen, you would have to love the Cardinals chances.
I said it last night, and I'll say it again. I still think the Cardinals are in the drivers seat, even with the series even. I will say, however, that I would really, really like to see the Cardinals win tomorrow. While I would trust them to win 2 in a row in St. Louis, I'd rather not see it come to that. And as you all know, absolutely anything can happen in one game, as we saw tonight.
I originally picked the Cardinals to win the series in 6 games. I'm standing by it, but I must admit - I would feel better this evening with the Cardinals up 3-1 rather than even at 2 games apiece.