No scoreboard watching is necessary for the Houston Astros.
Roy Oswalt will try to complete his second straight 20-win season and help the Astros nail down their second straight NL wild-card berth in the regular-season finale against the visiting Chicago Cubs.
With a one-game lead over Philadelphia, the Astros can clinch the wild card with a victory over the Cubs on Sunday. That would give Houston the wild card on the final day of the regular season for the second consecutive year.
If the Astros lose and the Phillies beat Washington, the teams would finish with identical 88-74 records and would play a one-game playoff in Philadelphia on Monday to determine the NL’s final postseason berth. Should both teams lose Sunday, the Astros would win the wild card.
“I don’t think that guys need to even concern themselves with if Washington is going to help us or not,” Houston’s Roger Clemens said. “Just go out there and do it.”
Clemens is one of the players responsible for getting the Astros to this point.
He allowed one run in seven innings despite pitching on a sore left hamstring, and Jason Lane had an RBI single in the sixth to lead Houston to a 3-1 victory Saturday.
“It’s good we still control our own fate, but we’ve got to take care of business tomorrow,” Astros outfielder Lance Berkman said.
Brad Lidge, whose blown save Friday night cost the Astros, worked a perfect ninth for his 41st save.
“Thank goodness I got another chance,” Lidge said. “Obviously, I wanted to redeem myself.”
Having Oswalt on the mound is another reason for Houston to feel confident heading into its biggest game of the season.
Oswalt went 4-1 with a 2.48 in six starts in September. He has allowed one run or fewer in four of those outings.
The right-hander was very sharp in a 3-1 victory at St. Louis on Tuesday, limiting the Cardinals to one run and eight hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Despite its reputation as a hitter-friendly stadium, Minute Maid Park has been very kind to Oswalt this season. He is 11-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 16 home starts.
The Cubs will finish with a losing record for the first time since 2002 despite completing this season above .500 on the road (41-39).