It’s a shame that the four runs came in the top of the ninth in a more-than-hopeful late rally against a 9-1 deficit. They are runs nonetheless, and if the Astros can indeed score, then surely they stand a fighting chance against the dominant Cardinals club.
The x-factor is, of course, starting pitching and not giving up the ‘big inning.’ You would think that Houston might gave grasped this by now, but it isn’t quite so simple when even your ace pitcher Bud Norris doesn’t have command of his fastball.
The Astros and Cards’ used to have something of a rivalry while they were both in the National League. Now the Astros are infrequent visitors to Busch Stadium, and tonight’s game will be the last meeting between the two clubs this season. A number of Houston’s pitchers are strangers to the Cardinals’ batters, which is a huge advantage in theory, but St. Louis has one of the deadliest batting lineups in the majors.
Several Cardinals batters are hitting above .300 in the last month and they also boast the best hitter in the NL, catcher Yadier Molina. Yadi has been a force from behind and besides the plate in 2013, and if a pitcher squares up to him with anything less than full confidence, he is likely to take a big bite.
The Astros have an important factor on their side: they have nothing to lose. The Cardinals are contenders, and staying healthy is vital to their progression. The Astros simply cannot afford to go down early on Wednesday evening because overcoming an insurmountable task is quite simply not their strong suit.