Astros fans should thank God for Dave Borkowski. When the ‘Stros faced the fact they didn’t have neither position players nor pitchers left on the roster, Phil Garner had to give a vote of confidence to a man, who came from Round Rock to subsititute an ailing Trever Miller, and who hasn’t been on a Major League mound in over two years.
Borkowski wanted to make up for lost time, and was able to keep Dodger bats silent during 4 shutout innings, striking out 4; and setting the scene so Houston could beat LA 4-3 in the longest regular-season game ever played at Minute Maid Park (4 hours, 48 minutes).
Fernando Nieve had a pretty good outing during 4.2 IP, in which he allowed 2 runs in the fifth frame, via a Kenny Lofton double and single by Jeff Kent, fanned 2 and walked a pair. After that, four relievers (Russ Springer, Mike Gallo, Chad Qualls and Dan Wheeler) appeared and avoided a Dodger rebellion, keeping the 2-2 tie.
The Astros took an early and brief advantage on the scoreboard due to a Brad Penny Wild Pitch in the seventh (that was how we and the official scorekeeper saw it; despite the many times Dodger announcers said it was a passed ball), allowing a run scored by Preston Wilson. It was a welcome change of pace for the new Astros outfielder, different from his pesky offensive drought. He ended the night batting 2-for-5 with 2 RBI. Certainly, he needs a few more nights like this one in order for his .227 BA to improve.
Once again Brad Lidge had a blown save in the ninth: Consecutive walks to Oscar Robles and Kenny Lofton, and an intentional base on balls to J.D. Drew congested the bases, in a script that is being played frighteningly often. Kent tied the score with a sac-fly sending Robles home.
So the hours went. Some fans took a nap, some returned home, while Borkowski made a spectacular Astros debut; until his turn at the plate was taken by Roy Oswalt instead. That meant Ezequiel Astacio would relieve Borkowski. Astacio took the win in the end, allowing no runs, despite the fact he walked two.
The fourteenth inning was once again solid evidence of how valuable Willy Taveras’ speed is. He took a free base courtesy of Hong-Chih Kuo; after that, a Lance Berkman single (and the subsequent handling of the ball in play) sent two men on scoring position. Kuo didn’t take any chances with Morgan Ensberg and gave him an intentional walk (it was obvious that Dodger pitchers respected Ensberg in a way that was reserved for guys like Barry Bonds). Wilson sent a fly to center which in the end meant a walk-off run for the Stros.
After the game there were several questions floating above a covered Minute Maid Park (it was a rainy night): How long is the Lidge crisis going to last? Is this the beginning of a solid bullpen performance from Borkowski? Did Wilson finally end his slump? Did Adam Everett had just a scare? (X-Rays were negative in the end, so there’s a sigh of relief).