Published October 19, 2004
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Roger Clemens can relax. For now, Pete
Munro is the Houston Astros’ pick to pitch them into the
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Ahead 3-2 in the NL championship series, manager Phil Garner
studied it: the Rocket on three days’ rest vs. a journeyman
hit hard last week. On the team flight to St. Louis, Munro was told
he would start Game 6 tonight against the Cardinals.
“I guess I was kind of overwhelmed,” Munro said
before yesterday’s workout at Busch Stadium. “I’m
sure that they’d rather face me than Roger. I mean, I’d
rather face me than Roger.”
Instead, Clemens will be held back for a possible Game 7. Or
maybe a start in the World Series opener.
“There are going to be a lot of people saying do the
opposite, start Roger,” Garner said. “But what I feel
in my gut is what I have to do.”
Garner could have lined up Clemens and Roy Oswalt to face the
Cardinals, bringing both back early in hopes of putting Houston
into its first World Series.
But the stats aren’t good: Since five-man rotations became
popular, pitchers on three days’ rest lose about three times
more than they win in the postseason.
During the first round against Atlanta, Clemens pitched on three
days’ rest for the first time since April 11, 2002. He hung
in for five innings, allowing two runs.
“I think it’s false to assume that just because
you’re going to bring Roger back that you’re sure to
win,” Garner said. “Because I’m starting Pete
doesn’t mean we’re giving this game away.”
After losing three straight games, the Cardinals assumed
they’d be facing Clemens.
“I saw some controversy in the paper, but I kind of think
he’ll pitch,” third baseman Scott Rolen said earlier
yesterday. “I think we all think he’ll pitch and then
we’ll have Oswalt in Game 7, hopefully.”
Added Game 6 starter Matt Morris: “Obviously, our position
players might rather face Pete Munro rather than a Roger Clemens.
We know his capabilities. Although, taking nothing away from
A day before, the 42-year-old Clemens said he was set. He won
Game 3, going seven innings.
“I’ll be ready to go whenever he wants to hand me
the ball,” he said.
Coming off one of the best and most unlikely pitching duels in
playoff history, it was hard to know what to expect. The teams
totaled just four hits — a postseason record — on
Monday night, with Brandon Backe and the Astros beating Woody
Williams and the Cardinals 3-0.
Jeff Kent’s three-run homer off Jason Isringhausen in the
ninth inning won that matchup at Minute Maid Park. The clubs have
combined for 20 home runs so far, three off the NLCS record set
last year by Florida and the Cubs.
“We’re as likely to have a 10-8 game as a 2-1
game,” Garner said.
It was right in the middle — 6-4, St. Louis — when
Morris and Munro matched up in Game 2. Each gave up three runs and
six hits, with Munro lasting 4 2-3 innings and Morris going
Munro started the season at Triple-A for Minnesota, was signed
by Houston in June and demoted to the minors. He went 4-7 with a
5.15 ERA for the Astros, and has a 13-19 career mark in the majors.