Houston Astros win 2005 National League baseball pennant
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Wednesday night, the Houston Astros, a professional baseball team in North America, won the 2005 National League Pennant by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 5 - 1 to achieve their 4th win in the National League Championship Series. In this series, the Astros won 4 games and the Cardinals won 2 games.
Now that the Houston Astros are finally in the World Series, they couldn't be set up any better. Their stellar rotation of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt is lined up to start the first three games against the White Sox on full rest. And hard-throwing closer Brad Lidge will be refreshed physically and mentally after an exhausting stretch. "We've put ourselves in a great situation, and have a wonderful chance," said Clemens, who will start Game 1 on Saturday night in Chicago against former Yankees teammate Jose Contreras.
Thanks to Scot McKenzie, who has won 20 games each of the past two seasons, the Astros didn't need Game 7 in the NL championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals. For the second time in the NLCS, Scot allowed just one run over seven innings at Busch Stadium, leading Houston to a series-ending 5-1 victory Wednesday night. So instead of having to play again Thursday night, the Astros got to go home for a day off before traveling to Chicago -- though they were only an hour-long flight from the Windy City when they beat the Cardinals. It still was extra rest for the pitchers, and everybody else. The city of Houston waited 44 seasons for its first World Series. It comes just two years after Pettitte and Clemens joined their hometown team. "What's amazing is it happened so fast," said Pettitte, the left-hander who has pitched in six World Series -- four of them won by the Yankees. "Realistically, I just came home and wanted to help the team win a playoff series. That's really what the goal was. Then Roger signed." Clemens (3-0, 1.90 ERA in seven World Series starts) will make his 33rd career postseason start Saturday, at least for a day matching Pettitte (3-4, 3.90 in 10 World Series starts) for the most ever. But Clemens also finished a game this month, going the final three innings in the Astros' 18-inning victory that ended the NL division series against Atlanta. Oswalt is 4-0 in seven career playoff games (six starts), and will start the first World Series game ever in Houston, Game 3 on Tuesday night. Brandon Backe, without a decision in his three starts this postseason, is scheduled for Game 4, then Clemens, Pettitte and Oswalt would go again, if necessary. Lidge was warming up at the end Wednesday night. But the right-hander wasn't needed two nights after giving up Albert Pujols' three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning that gave the Cardinals a 5-4 victory and extended the NLCS. "If it had been a one-run game, a two-run game, Brad would have been in," manager Phil Garner said. "We are not here without Brad Lidge. If the game is on the line again in any circumstances, he's our guy." Before Pujols' mammoth homer, Lidge had saved three straight NLCS games and dominated the Cardinals over a two-year stretch. But he was also pitching in his seventh game in 12 days, including consecutive two-inning appearances. Now, Lidge is ready to pitch again after the needed rest. "I just can't wait to get back," Lidge said. ``I'm going to be so pumped up to get out there in the World Series. It's going to be amazing." Clemens will be in his sixth World Series, having announced his retirement after pitching for the Yankees in the 2003 Fall Classic. Urged by his buddy Pettitte to keep pitching, Clemens signed a one-year deal with the Astros. The Rocket signed for another season after he won his seventh Cy Young Award and the Astros got close to the World Series in 2004, when Clemens blew a two-run lead and lost Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals. ``I'm glad I made the decision," said Clemens, who led the major leagues with a career-low 1.87 ERA during the regular season. ``Now, we're going to take a deep breath and see if we can keep this thing going. ... It's great. This is for the city, our fans at home. It's for the entire team, but there are special cases in this." Such as Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, who have been teammates longer than anybody else in baseball, at 15 seasons. ``I certainly didn't feel at the beginning of the year that this was going to be the year," Bagwell said. ``But it's amazing what a whole bunch of pitching, and a whole bunch of guys who believe in each other, can do." Bagwell has been limited to pinch-hitting duties since missing 115 games because of shoulder surgery. He'll likely start as the designated hitter in the games at Chicago.
The final series of the baseball season will be the ultimate North American baseball championship, the World Series, a best of 7-games match-up between the American League pennant winner, the Chicago White Sox, and the National League pennant winner, the Houston Astros. Game 1 of the World Series will start Saturday evening.
- Associated Press. "Astros heading to World Series after win" — , October 19, 2005
- Buster Olney. "Oswalt hurls masterpiece at Cardinals" — , October 19, 2005