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Notes: Lidge available for Game 410/17/2004 4:23 PM ET
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Brad Lidge threw 42 pitches during his two-inning outing on Saturday in the Astros' 5-2 win over the Cardinals, but the closer had no doubt in his mind following that Game 3 victory that he would be available to pitch the next day. "I'll definitely be available, whether it's one, two or three innings, I'm not sure right now," Lidge said. "But I want to pitch tomorrow for sure, and I'm sure I'll be able to." That's good news for the Astros, who will likely need their closer to log multiple innings in a close game, as he did on Saturday, if they are going to continue to advance in the postseason. In four playoff games, Lidge has allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and two saves.
With everything on the line, Lidge shouldn't be surprised if he's his own setup man when the team is leading after seven.Not that he lacks confidence, but if Lidge ever needed a boost from a veteran teammate, all he needs to do is read a transcript of Roger Clemens' comments following Game 3. "Lidge, this guy, I can say a lot of things, but this kid is really learning how to shine on the big stage," Clemens said. "It's nice to see. I mean, this is a great experience for this kid. Another guy that, if I would have had for a long time in my career, there's no telling how many wins I would have if I had this guy behind me. He's just got electric stuff." Don't mess with Clemens: Brad Ausmus has been a Major League catcher for 12 years, but other than Randy Johnson, he has never caught a more intense pitcher than Clemens. Ausmus lauded Clemens for the "fire in his eye and this grit in his teeth," and for his ability to maintain his concentration during every one of his 223 1/3 innings he pitched this year. "It amazes me that he had done this for 20-plus years and continues to be successful," Ausmus said on Saturday. "His concentration is unsurpassed." And when it's the Astros' turn to bat, Clemens continues to make his presence known in the dugout. "He's not afraid to yell in the dugout, not at anyone in particular, just to yell to try to get people fired up," Ausmus said. "You certainly don't want to make a mistake on him. You might get that Roger Clemens stare if you make a mistake behind him. But he gives everything when he steps on that mound."
Who's that guy? During pregame introductions on Saturday, several of Brandon Backe's veteran teammates couldn't help but notice that the young right-hander received an ovation as loud as say, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.The adoration doesn't only stem from the fact that Backe is a born and raised Texan, who grew up less than an hour away in Galveston. It also helped that he was outstanding in every game he pitched with the Astros' season on the line. "Obviously, the fans are behind him, and with good reason," manager Phil Garner said. "A lot of people in Houston have adopted him as a native son." Backe said he heard the loud applause when he ran out during pregame introductions, but that he was surprised he was received so well. "It really hit me when some of the other players mentioned that [the cheers were so loud]," Backe said. "It's pretty nice to have fans behind you 100 percent. To be appreciated in your hometown is something to be thankful for."
Steady Kent: While terms like "must-win" and "do-or-die" have been bandied about the Astros' clubhouse, count Jeff Kent as one who doesn't buy into that."I'm so tired of hearing ... must-win this, must-win that," Kent said after the Astros' win in Game 3. "That is so worn out. Our guys are saying it and it's worn out, and if you guys [reporters] are writing about it, it's worn out." Lance Berkman had a different take on the Astros' Game 3 win, which prevented them from falling behind in the NLCS, three games to none. "Today's a must-win, tomorrow's a must-win," he said. "It's two must-win games, back to back. We're not shying away from that. We know there's no room for error."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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