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Notes: Lamb rewards Williams06/02/2004 9:14 PM ET
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Manager Jimy Williams, admired by his team for the meticulous preparation he puts forth before every game, isn't afraid to play the numbers game when faced with crucial, late-game situations. He takes into account how hitters and pitchers match up, and he also reviews how hitters fare against right-handed pitchers compared to left-handers. So when it came time to call upon a pinch-hitter to face Cubs right-hander Kyle Farnsworth with two on and two outs in the eighth in a tie game Tuesday, Williams likely took into account Mike Lamb's .348 batting average against right-handers this year. It probably didn't hurt that Lamb had one hit and one walk in his only two career plate appearances against Farnsworth. "Sometimes that comes into play too," Williams said. "You say, well, what the heck?" Lamb's double off Farnsworth drove in the winning runs in a 5-3 victory, which, of course, made Williams look like a genius. Lamb is often called upon to pinch-hit in late-game situations with men on base. It's not surprising that he is one of the first options off the bench, considering he's 5-for-10 with one homer and six RBIs in pinch-hit at-bats. But Lamb is not strictly a bench player. Including Wednesday's series finale with the Cubs, he has made 17 starts at third. His right-handed hitting counterpart, Morgan Ensberg, has 34 starts. Lamb admitted that Williams' confidence in him plays a part in his production as a pinch-hitter. "I'm not keeping score on the bench on who's doing what and what role or what situation a guy comes into and one doesn't," he said. "But it does seem like lately if runners have been on base, I've been getting opportunities. But I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I have 70 at-bats. You get those kinds of at-bats six weeks into the season, you have better timing and rhythm."
Taking it slow: Unless he is instructed to do otherwise, Andy Pettitte will continue to play catch every day until he feels he is ready to begin long tossing on flat ground.But he's not there yet, and because he's on the disabled list, he is not pressed for time. "I'm waiting until I feel like I can back up and long toss, stretch it out, and as soon as I can do that, I can think about getting on the mound," he said. "I don't feel like I'm quite ready to do that." Pettitte will likely take a day of rest during the Astros' scheduled off day in St. Louis on Thursday before resuming his routine before Friday's series opener against the Cardinals. "I'm waiting to be able to long toss," he said. "I wish I felt like I could back up and do that already, but I still feel stiffness in there. I'm on the DL now, so there's no sense in pushing it. Now, I'm just going to take my time and try to make sure it's good to go." "He has to go on his pace so we can see how he feels," Williams said. "His pace, not our pace. He's going to push it within reason, while using common sense. He wants to get back out there and pitch as soon as he can." Streak continues: The only thing Jeff Kent cares about in terms of his hitting streak is whether or not the Astros are winning those games.
His streak reached a career-high 18 on Wednesday when he went 2-for-4 with a two-out triple that eventually turned into a tie-breaking run in the Astros' 5-1 win at Wrigley Field.
As far as his individual accomplishment, Kent prefers to not give it much thought.
"I try get a hit in every at-bat, let alone every game," he said. "It just happens. When you're on good streaks, you don't analyze it, you don't try to figure out why. I'm not worried too much about it. I think that's why it's happened. My focus is on so many other things."
Short night: Mike Gallo, a peppy guy by nature, was so wound up after Tuesday's win over the Cubs that it took him a little longer then usual to fall asleep that night.Gallo contributed two scoreless innings which included getting out of a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the fourth inning. It took the left-hander only 17 pitches to guide the Astros into the sixth frame with the score still tied at three. So it's understandable that he was a little wound up after the Astros' 5-3 win. "Once I got to sleep, I slept good," Gallo said. "But it took me a while. I was pretty pumped up." As was his manager, who inserted Gallo into the game after starter Brandon Duckworth allowed a game-tying home run to Moises Alou and later loaded the bases on an infield hit by Derrek Lee. "They're coming to that part of the lineup where (you say), how much further is Duckworth going to pitch?" Williams said. "I got Gallo up, because I said, well, we have (left-handed hitting Corey) Patterson, we have the shortstop (Ramon Martinez) who's right-handed, and you've got (Glendon) Rusch, the pitcher, he's still in the game and he's left-handed. "Then you have the second baseman (left-hander Todd Walker). I said, 'If you're ever going to use (Gallo), we've got to get him ready.'" Turns out, it was good timing for Williams, who isn't interested in taking credit for how his players perform. "To pick us up, the job he did ... that's really big, for us, for him," Williams said. "It helps to build on what he's already attained. But it was big because of who it was against, the score of the game, the final verdict of the game ... The game basically depended on those relievers and what they did."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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