Just when things were looking good, we hit a new road bump. I was reviewing the boxscore from the no hitter against the Yankees in 2003, and I noticed one thing in particular. The final three pitchers were Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner; all three are currently closers on major league rosters.
A solid bullpen will get you through tough times when your starters are either hitting mental road blocks or coming to the realization that maybe the majors isn’t cut out for them (yeah, you Brian “Gopher Balls” Moehler). Obviously, if a starter gets blown up in the first three innings of a game and gives up, say, 8 runs, then that day is more or less lost. But, if he gives up 4 runs in 5 innings and has to leave the game early due to a high pitch count, then we need to get the ball in the hand of someone who can keep us in a position to win.
During this month of June, prior to the Yankee series, our starters had been throwing quality start after quality start, but there wasn’t a complete game in the bunch. Relief efforts from Wilton Lopez, Casey Daigle, and Brandon Lyon paid huge dividends allowing the Astro bats to either take advantage in the game late or maintain a late lead. Since the first of June and before the Yankee series, they combined for 13 innings of 2 ER baseball (ERA of 1.38), and played huge rolls in the 8-2 stretch to start the month.
Understandably, they have not been given the opportunity to make a major difference this weekend with Wandy giving up 8 in his start, Pettitte pitching a brilliant piece on Friday, and Jorge Posada capitalizing on a grand slam set up by three walks, but when given the chance, these relievers will produce. Lindstrom, not mentioned above, has had a terrible month, but still holds and ERA of 3.08 which is only .04 points above his counterpart Lyon.
Moral of the story: at least we have some decent finishers. If Berkman and Lee prove that they want to turn it around, then we have some other pieces that will help us get to where we want to be. This isn’t a train wreck of a team even though the record says otherwise. We just ran into so good early season starting from opponents and needed a generous amount of time for our superstars to get their game on track. When these pieces match together, I think we have a good shot at .500, and hey, this Central division is weak. Keep on rollin’.