Game 5s: Walking off

Yesterday’s games:
Red Sox 5, Yankees 4, 14 innings
Astros 3, Cardinals 0

Astros lead series 3-2
Watching the other game while working tonight, we didn’t flip over to check on this one at all. So when it came over to Fox, we saw the scoreless game featuring two one-hitters — an amazing pitching duel, the kind of games that quickly become postseason classics. After Brad Lidge easily dispatched of the top of the St. Louis order, striking out Larry Walker and Albert Pujols, I saw that Carlos Beltran was leading off the ninth. “This is it,” I said to my co-workers. Sure enough, Beltran led off with a single and stole second — his first in the series, making him 31-for-31 since joining Houston — after Jeff Bagwell flied out to center. With first base now open, Lance Berkman was walked, and then Jeff Kent ended it with a three-run shot to left. Now the Astros return to St. Louis needing one of the two games to head to their first World Series. The belief is that they will pitch Roger Clemens in Game 6 on Wednesday on three days’ rest. His numbers in such situations isn’t good throughout his career, but can Phil Garner really go with Pete Munro in a potential clincher? He’s in a tight spot, one in which he will probably be second-guessed either way. Perhaps the better option is to send Munro out there — he allowed three runs on six hits in 4 2/3 in Game 2, which isn’t horrible — and, if a Game 7 is needed, start Clemens on full rest and have Roy Oswalt (then on three days’ rest) available out of the bullpen as a bridge to Lidge. Or, if Clemens is strong, Oswalt can be saved to start Game 1 of the Series. One thing’s for sure: No matter how much Garner’s moves have been questioned, they’ve still gotten the Astros within one win of the World Series.

Yankees lead series 3-2
How exciting and intense would this series have been if it hadn’t started out 3-0 for New York? There is definitely some electricity and excitement buzzing around Boston right now, but how much momentum do they really have? Both games were won in extra innings, so it’s not like the Red Sox rode a wave of emotion and fan support and breezed through Games 4 and 5. There were times in both games when Fenway came across on TV like the 18th green at the Masters, only with less anticipation and hope in the air. Despite these two nail-biting wins, there’s still that feeling that the Sox are merely putting off the inevitable. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, for one, felt like Boston could win two at home and bring the series back to New York, and under other circumstances, they’d still be considered to have a chance. But seeing as how no team has ever come back from 0-3, the order in which they’ve won these games is what has Yankee fans still feeling somewhat confident. But there’s this: If Curt Schilling does pitch Game 6, and if he can get over his ankle injury — if it really is comfortable enough to not be a factor — then it’s down to a winner-take-all seventh game in which anything can happen. It won’t, but there have to be some normally pessimistic Red Sox fans who are at least a little bit excited at the prospects.

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