2005 was a season of redemption for Astros fans. The good guys finally found a way to defeat long-time rivals Atlanta and St. Louis en route to the teams first World Series appearance. October 22nd 2005 marked game one the 101st Fall Classic and the zenith of the Houston Astros franchise as a national league team.
Roger Clemens, coming off a season in which he posted a career low 1.87 ERA, took the bump for Houston. Chicago would counter with 15 game-winner, Jose Contreras. In his previous start, Contreras allowed 3 runs over 8 1/3 innings in what would be Chicago’s final loss of 2005.
Chicago would get on the board first as Jermaine Dye crushed a deep fly that was not coming back. Houston’s silent Killer-B, Mike Lamb, added a solo shot of his own in the top of the 2nd to tie the game at 1-1. Clemens would give up a pair in the bottom half of 2nd and would not return for the 3rd with an injured hamstring. Lance Berkman would provide a clutch double to drive home Craig Biggio and Adam Everett with two on and two out in the top of the 3rd to even the scoring at 3-3.
In relief of an ailing Clemens, Houston skipper Phil Garner tapped lefty Wandy Fulton Rodriguez to take to ball. Rodriguez responded by allowing 4 hits 1 run with 5 walks and a K over 3 1/3 innings of work. The one run would come courtesy of a Joe Cerde homerun in the 4th. Houston offense would be held in check from that point on and Chicago’s rookie fire-baller, Bobby Jenks, came in to preserve a 5-3 victory.
I remember watching the game end to end, only getting up after the Crede homerun to go outside and punch a tree. I have a scar on my left hand to mark the occasion. I would go out to the tree a few more times during the series. It felt great to have the hometown team make it to the top, but it would have been much better to get at least one win out of the trip. Being swept out of the World Series turned out to be a foreboding sign of things to come for the Astros.
2006 marked a definite shift in the success of the Astros organization as Houston acquired Aubry Huff for Ben Zobrist, Jeff Bagwell retired and Jason Jennings was acquired from Colorado. When do you feel the current Astros decline began?