10/13/2004 11:51 PM ET
Bad breaks plague Astros in opener
Backe: 'They were lucky, we were not'
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
|Lance Berkman loses a liner in the lights that goes for a triple by Larry Walker. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS -- A different kind of Killer B's showed up for the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
Blinded one minute and beaten by bloopers the next, the Astros blamed their 10-7 loss in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium to bad breaks, which all but killed their chances of upsetting St. Louis in the opener.
"They were lucky, we were not. They got the breaks, we didn't," Astros starter Brandon Backe said. "They didn't beat us in with home runs, they beat us with just putting the ball in play, just getting it out of the infield. It was just an unlucky day for us."
The buzzard's luck started in the first inning, when Larry Walker's one-out liner to right got by Lance Berkman for a triple. Three pitches later, Albert Pujols launched a game-tying two-run homer.
"I was actually glad it didn't hit me in the temple because it might have killed me," Berkman said. "I never saw it, I lost it in that bank of lights. I saw it off the bat and I ran over to the vicinty of where I thought it was going, but as soon as I got to where I think it was coming, I looked up and I couldn't see it because the lights were blinding me. It never got high enough to get over the lights and wasn't low enough to where I could pick it up, either. It was just a liner in the lights, and I'm glad it didn't drill me in the chest."
Backe gave up a two-out hit to Walker in the fifth on a blooper to the opposite field. Walker's broken-bat hit on an 0-2 pitch drove home the third run for the Cardinals.
"Walk[er] hits a jam shot between third and short -- how many times is that going to happen?" Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell said. "Then again, Walk's a great hitter and great hitters find the holes. They make their own breaks."
The breaks also went against the Astros in the sixth, when the Cardinals scored six times to bust the game open.
With the score tied at 4-4 and runners on second and third with one out, pinch-hitter Roger Cedeno hit a slow roller down the first-base line. Bagwell fielded the ball and tagged out Cedeno, but the go-ahead run scored.
Replays were inconclusive, but the ball was close enough to the line that it might have rolled foul had it been allowed to continue rolling.
"There's nothing I could have done on that," Bagwell said. "If I let that go and it hits the bag, the floodgates open and then it's a real mess. We had the infield back, we're obviously OK with giving up a run. I tag Roger out, we've got two outs.
"The problem is, they score five after that. I'm not going to try and make some acrobatic play and get [Edgar] Renteria. I would do it the same way again."
The Cardinals scored five runs in the inning after there were two out, including one on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Vizcaino.
"I don't know if we gave them extra outs," Bagwell said. "They still got hits after that. Obviously, they would still have scored more runs. When you're in that situation, you're just trying to get out of the inning.
"They found some holes. They've got some guys that can run. Those things are going to happen. A ball's up the middle, [Jeff Kent] dives and it's just off his glove. The ball that [Vizcaino] threw to me, we're just trying to get out of the inning and have some damage control. Those things happen every once in a while."
Astros left fielder Craig Biggio said it was just a frustrating night the Astros would quickly put behind them.
"That's baseball. If you put the ball in play, you have a chance," Biggio said. "A few plays here and there, a few pitches here and there, those things happen. I'm not going to use excuses, it just wasn't our day."
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.