09/12/2002 01:15 am ET
Cards, Astros on Gameday Video
Find out more about LIVE Gameday Webcasts >>
The National League Central race is coming down the stretch, and the first-place Cardinals, riding an eight-game winning streak, will play the second-place Astros seven times this month.
The first game, in Houston's Minute Maid Park on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET, will be broadcast live on MLB.com via a live video Webcast.
Games like this are a big reason why the Cardinals went out and acquired lefty Chuck Finley, Thursday's probable starter. As St. Louis starts its biggest series of the season, the ball goes to the most experienced pitcher on the staff. Finley has showed the ability to bounce back from bad starts this year; he'll need to do it again.
Finely will be opposed by fellow southpaw Carlos Hernandez, who is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA versus St. Louis this year. He has allowed six earned runs over 11 innings in three games (two starts).
Every game counts for Hernandez and the Astros, who will be trying to cut into the Cardinals' 6 1/2 game lead in the NL Central.
"When you have the number of games left that we have...I know I'm being redundant, but we understand where we are, what we have to do," said Astros skipper Jimy Williams on his team's showdown with St. Louis. "The bottom line is that we have to win some games."
The groundbreaking live Webcast direct from Minute Maid Park is the third in a series of key pennant-drive games being presented by MLB.com through its Gameday Webcasts service. Upcoming contests include: San Francisco at Los Angeles, 10 p.m. ET, Monday, Sept. 16
Anaheim at Oakland, 3:30 p.m. ET, Thursday, Sept. 19
Arizona at St. Louis, 8 p.m. ET, Monday, Sept. 23
Oakland at Seattle, 10 p.m. ET, Tuesday, Sept. 24
Boston at Chicago White Sox, 2 p.m. ET, Thursday, Sept. 26
The Cardinals-Astros Webcast is the third this week presented by MLB.com. On Tuesday afternoon, Andy Pettitte and the Yankees beat the Orioles in the first game of a day-night doubleheader, 5-2.
Monday night's Webcast featured an AL West showdown between the Oakland A's and Anaheim Angels. Oakland's Tim Hudson outdueled Anaheim's Kevin Appier to take the first of a four-game set, 2-1.
No doubt excited about the big W, Hudson was also stoked about the Webcast.
"That's pretty cool," said Hudson, upon hearing about the live video feed over the weekend. "My wife will be happy about that. ... She's not going to be on that trip with me, so I can tell her about this and she can still watch it."
Gameday Webcasts made its historic debut on Aug. 26, when 30,000 fans watched the Yankees defeat the Rangers in the first-ever live video stream of a baseball game from the first pitch to the final out.
"I think it's a great thing," Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams said. "Baseball is taking advantage of all that technology has to offer. ... Someone out there will watch it who wouldn't be able to watch it on TV, and that's a great thing. We're expanding as a sport, and that's what we should be doing."
Fans may purchase access to the eight-game package for $4.95, or by subscribing to MLB.com's Total Ticket, which also includes access to Gameday Audio, Condensed Games, Highlights Direct, Baseball's Best and Press Pass, all for $9.95 per month. Current Total Ticket subscribers will receive the games as part of their monthly subscription in an enhanced Fall Lineup.
Fans should be aware that if they reside in the local television markets for either of the teams on the schedule, television rightsholders have blackout restrictions that will be safeguarded and enforced.
"The Internet definitely seems to be the way the world is going," Yankees reliever Mike Stanton said. "Everything is being computerized, and as an industry we need to stay on the cutting edge to keep up."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.