I have taken a short hiatus from writing, as I cannot bear to repeat the results of Game 5 between the Astros and Braves. This wasn’t just a win by the ‘Stros; it was a drudging of the Braves. The final score was (shudder) 12-3. The Braves made the game close in the fifth inning with home runs from Rafael Furcal and Johnny Estrada, but they just could not win. They trailed in 43 of the 47 innings of this series, which is quite amazing considering they won two games.
What Went Right
The Astros got their big man Carlos Beltran during mid season and he produced just as the ‘Stros wanted him to. In this game Beltran went 4-5 with two homers and five RBI, which, by most accounts, is decent to good numbers. The Houston 25 also received contributions from Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, and Jeff Kent. Starter Roy Oswalt went on three days rest and pitched decently with 5 innings of two earned runs. Chad Qualls, Chad Harville, Dan Miceli, and Dan Wheeler, all not that great arms, pitched beautifully for Astros fans with a combined 3.2 innings of shutout ball. For the Braves the only positives for the Braves is that Furcal, Chipper Jones, Estrada, and Andruw Jones produced well at the plate. Kevin Gryboski pitched well, something the Braves definitely need to carry with them into the next season.
What Went Wrong
The Astros had to use Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens twice this series on three days rest, making both of them questionable for the first two games against the Cardinals. This wasn’t so terrible, because you want to make sure you get to the next series, and then think about what you’re going to do, but who wants Peter Munro to start a game in the postseason? Jeff Kent, despite a good performance in Game 5, is still hitting .227 in Postseason 2004. Sure that’s a small sample size, but I felt I had to pick on something. On the Braves side of the equation, the performance of Jaret Wright was not what was expected. The tobaccoed one went 5.1 innings and allowed four earned runs. Chris Reitsma, a good reliefer for the Braves all season, and Juan Cruz seemed to be the sacrificial lambs for the game going 1.1 of an inning allowing seven earned runs. On the offensive side, JD Drew continued his slump for the postseason and might not be back next season, but Braves fans hope he will. Also shortstop Rafael Furcal will be in jail on Tuesday for three weeks.
Past and Future
This series was a great showing for the Atlanta Braves. They weren’t expected to make the postseason this year and finish quite far down the beanstalk known as the NL East. And if you don’t live under a rock, you will know they didn’t. So by taking this series to five games against a very good Houston team was a very good performance; not many Braves fans can be disappointed with this performance. The future for the Astros holds a series with the St. Louis Cardinals, something most teams will dread, but if you will remember, the Astros were the only NL team to defeat the Red Birds in the regular season series. They send Brandon Backe in Game 1, Peter Munro in Game 2, Roger Clemens (at home) in Game 3, and Roy Oswalt in Game 4. If the Astros don’t bury themselves too early in Games 1 and 2, this could be an interesting series. But I don’t think that that will be the case, and the Cardinals will win in 6, at most.