This Day In Astros History: May 16, 1997

On this day 14 years ago, in his 30th game with the team, one Bradley David Ausmus hit his first home run as a Houston Astro, as part of a 12-7 Houston win over Philadelphia at Veterans Stadium.

The Astros offensive explosion was helped by a 23 MPH wind blowing out to right field on this dry May day in Philly. Craig Biggio led off the game with a home run to deep right, no doubt aided some by that wind. The Astros also sent a couple more singles to right field against Philly starter Mark Leiter.

But, Ausmus' blast, which came with two men on, was to deep left center, so it was all Brad. That also chased Leiter from the game, under the little known baseball clause, "Give up a home run to Brad Ausmus or Adam Everett and you get pulled." 

Ausmus drove in Bobby Abreu and Ricky Gutierrez on the play, giving the Astros a 7-0 lead at that point. Bradley picked up another hit later in the game, finishing 2 for 4 with two runs scored, three RBIs with a walk and a strikeout. Biggio ended up hitting two home runs in this one, going 2 for 5 with four RBIs, a walk and two runs scored. Jeff Bagwell also added his 11th home run of the season.

Chris Holt picked up the fifth of his eight victories in his rookie season with Houston. The right-hander went 8-12 but had a pretty solid 3.52 ERA, but his FIP that season was a less sterling 4.24. The Dream Shake's Tom Martin* took a break from his busy writing schedule to pitch in relief in this game, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

*Not actually related. Not that it needed to be said. TDS' Tom is, like, 15 years old...

A little more about Brad. That was one of just 41 home runs he hit in 10 years in Houston. He ended up hitting 80 in his career, but 20 of those were during his sojurn north to Detroit. Ausmus had a good season in 1997, but arguably had his best season at the plate in 1998, when he hit .269/.356/.357 with six home runs, 20 extra base hits, 45 RBIs, 62 runs scored and stole 10 of 13 bases. According to FanGraphs, Ausmus posted his second-highest Fielding Score of his career in 1997 with a  14.0. He also had the third-highest fWAR of his career at 2.9 that season.

Here's a Back to Baseball replay of the game. Oh, and Mark Leiter is the brother of Al Leiter, who was a little more famous, though Mark did lead the National League in losses with 17 in 1997.

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