This Day In Astros History: April 14, 1997

I know I'm not the youngest guy on this site, but it makes me feel old looking back at this box score. This was one of my favorite teams and this game is a great showcase for one of my favorite players from this era, Billy Spiers. I don't know why I liked him as much as I did, but his versatility and clutch hits really endeared him to me.

Add Spiers to Biggio, Bagwell, Darryl Kile and BIlly Wagner and this game was a veritable treasure trove of my favorite players from the '90s. It's also a rarity lately, an Astros victory in this section, as Houston beat St. Louis and Tony LaRussa 4-2 in 10 innings.

St. Louis starter Matt Morris was good, striking out four in six innings while allowing eight hits, two runs (one earned) and two walks. DK was just a little bit better, striking out eight in 8 innings and allowing six hits, two runs and four walks. He didn't get the victory, as the score was tied 2-2 heading into the ninth inning.

That's where Billy Wagner comes in, striking out the side on 15 pitches and picking up his first victory of the season in the process. John Hudek pitched a perfect 10th inning for his second save.

Offensively, Derek Bell led the way, going 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored. Jeff Bagwell was 2 for 4 while Craig Biggio was 1 for 5 with an RBI. Shortstop Pat LIstach was 0 for 5, but he also drove in a run. 

That just leaves Spiers, who hit a pinch-hit two-run double with one out in the top of the tenth of future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. Eck was lifted immediately after giving up the double and T.J. Mathews finished the game for the Cards. Spiers double was a manly double, as Baseball Reference lists it as a line drive to center field.

Here's an interesting tidbit from the notes the next day about manager Larry DIerker's decisions in the pivotal frame: 

 

Astros manager Larry Dierker, who has been second-guessing other managers from the broadcast booth since 1979, was questioning one of his own decisions in Monday's game.

Locked in a 2-2 tie in the 10th inning with none out, runners on first and second and Tony Eusebio at the plate, Dierker decided to let the catcher swing away rather than try to bunt the lead runner to third and play for a sacrifice fly. Eusebio flied out to right against St. Louis closer Dennis Eckersley.

"It's just a guess," Dierker said. "But I didn't feel like Tony could bunt. I thought he could hit him, so I let him swing. Ninety percent of the time, you bunt in that situation. In this job, you're constantly second-guessing yourself."

As it turned out, to bunt or not to bunt wasn't a big factor. Bill Spiers delivered a two-run pinch double one batter later, and the Astros won 4-2.

 

I should also point out that this article as well as that notes column praised Bell's defense as much as his offense. Bell was starting in center field that season after new general manager Gerry Hunsicker shipped Brian Hunter off to Detroit.

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