Faraway, so close
From the suspense that came from watching a pitching masterpiece being set by Andy Pettitte, being excited by a Lance Berkman tater, up to seeing Brad Lidge not being able this time to erase his own mistakes, making a rare blown save in the regular season, threatening us to see more of those often.
Lidge surrendered a grand slam to Nomar Garciaparra, and with that, a Dodger win over the Astros 6-2 at Minute Maid Park.
I will confess, I’m not much into looking for statistics and references for no-hitters while a pitcher is close to achieve that. It’s our duty though, and you might call my issue a superstition. But Andy Pettitte gave us a worthy right to dream about seeing a moment of glory not lived by a single pitcher for himself donning an Astros jersey since Darryl Kile back in September 1998; or by a collective group of hurlers since Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Lidge himself, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner no-hit the Yankees in 2003.
In 6.1 innings, Pettitte gave us solid evidence why he’s one of the best pitchers in recent years. But the magic ended with a solo home run by J.D. Drew. Pettitte would end his performance without decision, walking 3 and fanning 5. It’s a radical departure from the Pettitte we saw in his last two starts: hardly a dominating pitcher, more erratic than ever before.
Derek Lowe also knew what it was like to be clubbed in his opening start this year. That was kept in the past though; and despite the fact he allowed four hits, he was a worthy opponent in the pitching duel against Pettitte during seven frames. In the eighth, Takashi Saito came to the mound, and surrendered a solo shot from Lance Berkman, his seventh for the year, giving the Astros a 2-1 advantage.
That was handed over to Brad Lidge so he could take care of it and turned it into a win that could appear on the NL Central standings. But that didn’t happen. Triple by Kenny Lofton, and consecutive walks for Drew and Jeff Kent prepared the scene for Garciaparra, who shot a monster dinger deep into center field, a grand slam that would seal the game’s fate.
This is certainly not the Brad Lidge we are used to see. We hope he returns, more sooner than later; and this only becomes part of the material in which he’ll build a tough armor that, as a closer, he must wear day in and day out.