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10/23/05 1:00 AM ET

Astros Game 1 analysis

Clemens' early exit and missed opportunities hurt Houston

CHICAGO -- The Astros lost Game 1 of the World Series, 5-3, in disappointing fashion. Roger Clemens, their future Hall of Fame pitcher, couldn't come back out for the third inning because of a recurring injury to his left hamstring. Runners were left stranded in scoring position like too many ducks on a pond.

They've done it before: lost Game 1 and then came back to win the series. Check out the first game of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals, also a 5-3 loss. The Astros came back to win four of the next five and their first pennant.

Game 2 could be pivotal, or maybe it won't be. The Astros lost the first two games of the NLCS at St. Louis last season, then won out at home to take a 3-2 lead before they lost the series in seven games.

You've gone with your gut all postseason and every move has worked out for you, particularly late-inning defensive shifts and making sure Chris Burke started as many games in the NLCS as he could, like the last five of them. Burke won the NL Division Series against Atlanta, ending that loony 18-inning game with a walk-off home run. Of the five games he started in the NLCS, the Astros won four of them. On Saturday night, Burke was on the bench. The Astros lost. Burke is the lucky charm. He must start.

One can only hope that Andy Pettitte pitches better than he did in the NLCS, when an errant batting practice line drive hit by teammate Roy Oswalt smacked him in the knee before the first game even started. Still, Sunday night's starter lost Game 1 and wasn't the pitcher of record in Game 5 when Brad Lidge let up that three-run, ninth-inning game-losing bomb to Albert Pujols. But the Cardinals won both of the games Pettitte started, and those were their only wins of the series. He had a 5.11 ERA and hasn't won since the NLDS against the Braves. Let's hope he does better.

The Astros need to worry about facing White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle, who works so quickly the Astros might be up and down before they even get a chance to think about it. The Astros haven't faced Buehrle, which is never a good thing at this time of the season when every new matchup provides a labyrinth of problems. The solution is making him throw that first strike and work deep in the count. Otherwise, it'll be over in two hours and the Astros will be down, 2-0.

Who should DH in Game 2?
Jeff Bagwell
Chris Burke
Mike Lamb
Orlando Palmeiro

Why is Jeff Bagwell in the starting lineup? There's plenty of sentiment for the 15-year veteran who's been the heart and soul of the Astros franchise for his entire career. But right-shoulder surgery kept him out from May 4 to Sept. 9, and he's been limited to pinch-hitting since then. He was the DH in Game 1, striking out with runners on second and third with two out in the eighth. Burke back in, Bags out?

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.