This Day In Astros History: May 19, 1977

On this day back in 1977, the Houston Astros beat Jim Kaat and the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 behind the duo of Joaquin Andujar and Joe Sambito.

Andujar pitched 8 innings, allowing 10 hits, two runs and three walks while striking out four. Sambito picked up the save, his first of the season by pitching a perfect ninth inning. Andujar also had a bang-up day at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a double of Kaat and getting a sacrifice bunt down, too. 

But, the real story I wanted to explore here is Cliff Johnson. The 29-year old outfielder was sort of a journeyman at this point in his career, never really latching on any place, but also never really getting much playing time. In '77, he got a shot to play left field every day after spending time at catcher the previous season.

Johnson wasn't a very good catcher, having trouble with passed balls and not really throwing out runners at a good clip. But, his bat was pretty stellar in the minors, though he was old for a prospect by the time he got a chance in the majors. Wait, who are we talking about again?

The whole reason I bring him up is that Johnson went 2 for 4 in this game with a run scored while hitting cleanup. That raised his average to .370 and his OPS to 1.155. He was still batting over .900 in his OPS on June 15, when he was traded to the New York Yankees for three young and wildly unsuccessful players. Of course, Johnson never put it together himself after that '77 campaign, bouncing around to many different teams before having the best season of his career in '84 with the Blue Jays.

Think the Astros can get three players for J.R. Towles this June?

Here's a graphic replay of the game via Back to Baseball.

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