The evening of the Houston Astros' defeat No. 97, a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, was more notable for who might be coming to Minute Maid Park -- as in a new manager -- and who might not be coming -- as in Roger Clemens.
Managerial search first. Owner Jim Crane, back in Houston after a late August/early September absence, said he and general manager Jeff Luhnow will begin interviews this week with six to eight candidates to replace fired manager Brad Mills. Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco, Crane and Luhnow said, will be among the candidates.
"We're interviewing this week," Crane said. "We've got a pretty extensive list. We've got a bunch of people coming in this week, so we're working pretty hard right now."
Luhnow said club officials are optimistic "the first wave (of candidates) will be so overwhelmingly positive that we will find our next manager" among that group. He said major league managing experience is a plus but added, "We're not going to shy away from taking an up-and-coming rising star just because he hasn't managed."
In the latest episode of the Clemens will he/won't he soap opera, Crane said the Astros would not use Clemens against a playoff-contending team. If that's the case, the only chances for him to pitch this year for the Astros are this week against the Cubs or Phillies, since Houston's final homestand Sept. 21-26 features the Pirates and Cardinals.
Clemens, informed of Crane's comments, answered via text message: "If you were going to do it ... wouldn't you want to do it against a contender and knock the contender off? ... Nothing's cooking, but if there was wouldn't that be the only way to go?"
And so the melodrama continues.