© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
10/25/05 1:15 AM ET
Astros have bounced back before
Oswalt on mound as World Series shifts to Houston
CHICAGO -- Before the ice pack had even started to do its work on Brad Lidge's right shoulder, his locker was an impenetrable barrier of cameras, microphones and pens, most armed and ready to write off the Astros and their scuffling closer. Lidge took a peek from the trainer's room and turned right back around to let the ice do its work before facing the music of all the pied pipers leading the Astros to the cliff's edge. Who could blame him? This was moments after what used to be the biggest homer he'd ever allowed, the Albert Pujols blast in his previous outing in the National League Championship Series, was trumped by an even bigger homer, an improbable homer by Scott Podsednik that gave the White Sox a dramatic 7-6 victory in Game 2 of the World Series to give Chicago a 2-0 advantage. To his credit, Lidge returned soon enough and answered question after question about his outing, his psyche, the bullpen's rough night and everything in between. Lidge handled himself like it was just a rough outing in June, even if he knew it wasn't. "It's unfortunate that right now, here on this big stage, that it happened, but you go through stretches when it does," Lidge said. "It kind of comes and goes in cycles as a closer, and it always stops at some point. "You just keep chucking the ball. You just keep throwing strikes. That's all you can do." Lidge already has moved on, and that seemed apparent as the questions came at him and he fielded them all with aplomb. His next outing will tell you just how well, but mentally at least, he certainly sounded like he'd turned the page. Hey, if Lidge can show resilience in a matter of a couple of minutes, who's to say the Astros can't do it in a matter of a couple of days? That's exactly what the Astros have to do now, and what you should expect them to do. They've let it roll off their backs all season long, and there's no reason to believe they won't under the glare of baseball's biggest spotlight. Especially with their track record, there's no reason to write these guys off now, as easy as it might appear to be. The Astros have been down 0-2 in a big series before -- remember the NLCS last year? They won all three games in Minute Maid Park to take a 3-2 edge in that one, though they did wind up succumbing to the Cardinals eventually. The Astros have been down and counted out in the regular season before, too -- both this year and last. Just a few months ago, on May 24, the Astros were 15-30 and in dead last -- 14 games behind the division-leading Cardinals, the team they dispatched in the NLCS. So trailing the White Sox by a mere two games is nothing that will rattle this club. Resilience has become the Astros' middle name, and it's going to have to become tattooed across their foreheads come Tuesday when Game 3 rolls around and the biggest challenge of a challenging year is at hand. "You don't go from 15-30 to the World Series without being resilient," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. "You don't come back from tough losses like we've had in the playoffs unless you're resilient. "You've got to have talent and you've got to have the ability to say, 'Shake it off and go on.' I think that's a credit to these guys, that they've always been there to pick each other up, and I think that's one of the reasons we've been so resilient." Oh, and there's one other factor that doesn't really have a thing to do with resilience that tells you the Astros aren't done yet. This factor can be summed up in two words: Roy Oswalt. Suffice to say, the White Sox haven't seen anybody quite like Oswalt all season long. The right-hander with the electric stuff threw 118 pitches in the Game 6 clincher of the NLCS last Wednesday, and all 118 were absolutely nasty. Oswalt's presence on the mound in itself gives the Astros confidence despite their 0-2 predicament. "We're going to go back home and we've got an excellent pitcher on the mound for us, so we've got a good chance to win that game, and if we do win that game, then we're only down 2-1," Berkman said.
The simple arithmetic of the zero in their win column doesn't faze this club.It's all about dealing with what's ahead, and right now Game 3 is ahead for the Astros, and that's all they need to know. "We're seen as kind of having a quiet confidence about us," Berkman said. "We don't get down because of adversity. We've been through a lot of that this year. Shoot, we weren't supposed to be here anyway." But here they are, ready for the resilience to kick in again. If their backs weren't against the wall, well, they just wouldn't be the Astros. In a sense, it's same old, same old. Only on a much bigger stage.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.