10/06/05 8:40 PM ET
Notes: Bagwell delivers off bench
Veteran thriving as pinch-hitter, including RBI single in Game 1
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Garner was referring to Bagwell's pinch-hit single in the eighth inning that drove in the first of Houston's five runs in the frame that turned a close 5-3 advantage into a much more comfortable seven-run lead.
The Astros aren't expecting towering home runs from their veteran of 15 seasons. They want exactly what Bagwell has been giving them for nearly a month: solid contact, base hits, RBIs and the ability to get the runner home from third with less than two outs.
In 12 regular season pinch-hit plate appearances, Bagwell logged three hits, four RBIs, walked once and was hit by a pitch once.
He drove in two runs in his final four pinch-hit at-bats of the regular season, and the fact that he made good contact throughout the month -- he struck out just three times -- was enough for the Astros to put him on the playoff roster.
All three -- Bagwell, Garner and general manager Tim Purpura -- scoffed at the notion that Bagwell's inclusion on the postseason roster was more related to sentimentality than logic.
"If I couldn't help once I got back, what's the point?" Bagwell said. "I told them, 'I can give you a good at-bat.' I don't think [Garner] is the type of person to put me on there for sentimental reasons. He needs me to be productive."
"We're here to win," Purpura said. "There's no room for sentimental decisions in the playoffs. Jeff would have been the first one to say, 'Hey, this isn't going to work.'
"That eighth inning [on Wednesday], his at-bat changed the whole complexion of that inning. [Braves manager] Bobby Cox respects Jeff Bagwell, and I don't think he wanted to see him up there.
"Look at what a threat in the lineup Jeff has been in his career. To take that threat out of the lineup ... last night, we put the threat back in the lineup."
As the postseason progresses, look for Garner to continue to turn to Bagwell when the Astros have runners on base late in games.
"We all were in agreement that once we saw he was swinging the bat well, that it was going to be critical for our club, even if he can't play anywhere [in the field]," Garner said. "Every at-bat has been a critical at-bat. When you have four at-bats in a game, some of them don't mean that much. It's not like the game's on the line, every time.
"Every one of his at-bats now, since he's been back, have been with the game on the line. There's something big riding on it and he can handle it."
Game times announced: The Astros and Braves will play at 7:05 p.m. CT on Saturday when the Division Series moves to Houston for Game 3 of the best-of-five series, although the official start time is listed as 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast by FOX.
If a Game 4 is necessary, Sunday's game will begin at noon CT and will be televised by ESPN. However, if both American League series conclude on Saturday, Sunday's Astros-Braves game would be moved to 6:30 p.m. CT and would be broadcast on FOX.
If necessary, Game 5 on Monday, Oct. 10, at Turner Field, would begin at 7 p.m. CT and would be broadcast by FOX.
Lidge rested and ready: Brad Lidge began warming up in the ninth inning on Wednesday as soon as Mike Gallo entered the game, and although the closer wasn't needed in the Astros' 10-5 win, he said the extra work was beneficial.
Houston had two days off in between Sunday's regular-season finale and Game 1 of the Division Series, and while Lidge isn't desperate for work, he'd like to pitch an inning sooner rather than later.
"I definitely want to get in an inning tonight," Lidge said before Game 2. "The situation of the game will dictate that. But whether we're up or down, I definitely want to get out there and get some work in tonight."
Same lineup, different day: Garner's Game 1 lineup worked so well that he decided to stick with it for Game 2. That means Orlando Palmeiro started in left field, and Mike Lamb was back to pinch-hit duty.
"We did a nice job yesterday," Garner said of the lineup with Palmeiro. "Let's see if we can do that again offensively."
Palmeiro was 1-for-3 on Wednesday, but he also drew a walk and was hit by a pitch in the win over the Braves.
Odds and ends: It's official: the Minute Maid Park roof will be closed this weekend when the Division Series moves to Houston, beginning Saturday.
"The roof will be closed, and it will be loud," Garner said.
The skipper then echoed Morgan Ensberg's humorous request to the fans during Monday's rally.
"We want them to drink plenty of Starbucks and Red Bull and come out to the ballpark," Garner said.
The Braves fell about 10,000 short of capacity at Turner Field for Game 1 of the Division Series, but they said Game 2 was an expected sellout. Last year, only Game 5 sold out.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.