Notes: Roof may be open
Minute Maid Park could see outdoor World Series games
CHICAGO -- The roof at Minute Maid Park was closed for the first two rounds of the playoffs, but that's likely to change when the World Series shifts to Houston for Games 3, 4 and 5 beginning Tuesday.
The weather is supposed to be picture perfect on Tuesday and Wednesday, with only a 30 percent chance of rain on Thursday. Highs are expected to hit just 73 degrees, and the overnight lows will range from 45 degrees on Tuesday to 52 the next two.
The Astros may be leaning toward keeping the roof open.
"We've talked about it," general manager Tim Purpura said. "The roof opening and closing has more to do with fan comfort than anything else. Maybe we ought to open it up and showcase our city.
"I think we're going to work with MLB [on the decision]. They have a lot of sway as to how things are done, and they should, since they do it every year."
Those in uniform have made it clear in the past that they prefer to play in the controlled environment of a closed roof, because it eliminates any issues relating to wind and humidity. But mostly, the team likes playing under the roof because of the noise factor.
"I don't know if it makes much of a difference for the pitchers, whether the balls fly with the roof open or closed," Dan Wheeler said. "I just like how loud it gets in there. That's a big part of our home-field advantage."
Lance Berkman, one of the more outspoken players in terms of his desire for the roof to remain closed, sounded indifferent when asked about it prior to Game 2 in Chicago. Of course, Berkman made his comments after running off the rain-soaked field at U.S. Cellular Field. All day, it was cold, rainy and miserable in the Windy City.
"I don't care if the roof is open or closed," he said. "As long as we can get out of this miserable weather, I don't care."
Burke in lineup vs. lefty: As was the case for much of the second half of the season, Chris Burke was inserted into left field for Game 2, because the Astros were facing a left-hander.
Garner favors starting Burke over the left-handed-hitting Mike Lamb when a southpaw is on the mound, and he continued that trend with White Sox hurler Mark Buehrle starting Game 2 of the World Series.
"He's played very well in the playoffs and played very well down the stretch," Garner said. "[This is] another big setting for him, as it is for a lot of our young kids. I'm sure he's raring and ready to go and will do a good job for us tonight."
Bagwell to DH: Jeff Bagwell was tabbed as the designated hitter for the second day in a row, but he moved up a notch in the batting order. He hit fifth on Sunday.
Bagwell was 0-for-2 and was hit by pitches twice in Game 1. Garner was encouraged by how well he swung, even when he struck out against White Sox closer Bobby Jenks in the eighth inning.
"His second swing [against Jenks, a foul ball], the ball was just a little bit up," Garner said. "If it had been down three or four inches, I'd like to have seen what would have happened. It was just a little bit out of the zone. I thought his bat head was on it pretty good."
Jenks threw a 100-mph fastball to fan Bagwell, the first of the closer's three strikeout victims.
"If you throw the ball above 92 [mph] and you locate, you're going to get guys out," Garner said. "If you throw the ball above 95, you don't really have to locate. You just get it in certain portion of the strikezone, it's tough to hit. That's just what it is. It's tough to hit. Why do you think [Brad] Lidge is so good?"
Although Bagwell struck out against Jenks, he drew more positives than negatives from the at-bat.
"I'll tell you what, if anything for me, it went a long way," he said. "As I said after the game, my only fault in that at-bat is I didn't get the bat down as much as I should have in the first couple of swings. But my bat head was there, which means I can get the bat head to it. I just need to get it down.
"Anytime you face a guy who throws that hard, you have to try to get the bat down, because it's so hard to hit an elevated pitch. So I'm very happy in that fact ... I think that went a long way for me."
Nolan in the house: Nolan Ryan won't be making any public appearances during the World Series in Chicago, but the Astros, aware of his presence, are happy he's here.
"I love it when he's here," Garner said. "He's very aware that we're not here all the time and he doesn't want to try to upstage us. He's just a class act. That's all there is to it."
Quotable: "I felt confident. My feeling from everybody else was the same. Everybody felt pretty comfortable. Of course, in these situations, you don't want to feel too comfortable. You want to be hyped up. You get that energy flow that you don't have on normal days. You can lift cars, overturn 18-wheelers, bound over tall buildings." -- Garner, on getting past the World Series jitters when it's time to play
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.