We're looking at the first divisional champs today, way back in 1980, when they beat the last dregs of the Big Red Machine 3-0 and moved a half-game back of the self-same Reds for the division lead.
Houston got a big game out of Ken Forsch, who twirled a three-hitter, walking three and striking out two in nine innings of work. It was Forsch's third victory of the season in his second year back as a regular starter. Forsch had been a regular starter in '71-'73, but never won 10 games in a season. He went to the bullpen, where he had some success over the next five seasons before ducking back into the rotation with 24 starts in 1979. This year, Forsch went 12-13, which was the second-highest win total of his career.
He also entered a stretch, starting in the 1978 season where he just racked up complete games and shutouts like they were nothing. After his Age 31 season in 1978 (when he threw four complete games and two shutouts), Forsch totaled 10, 6, 10, 12 and 11 complete games and 2, 3, 4, 4 and 1 shutouts in the next five seasons. Talk about a late-career turnaround. Forsch won 68 of his 114 career victories in that stretch, but only played for Houston two of those seasons. He at least brought a little value in return when he was traded to the Angels after the 1980 season for Dickie Thon.
Back to the game at hand, though. The Astros leadoff man and starting shortstop may join my All-Time Best Name team. Rafael Landestoy was 1 for 4, stole a base and has a very fun name to say. It virtually rolls of the tongue. Cesar Cedeno provided the offensive spark in this one, hitting a two-run home run to drive in Jose Cruz. Joe Morgan also scored a run for Houston in his return with the Astros. Cedeno also stole his seventh base of the season in his last big steals year. He finished the 1980 season with 48 steals in 63 attempts. It feels like that should have been the twilight of his career (and it sadly was), but Cedeno was just 29 years old in 1980. He only played one more year in Houston before being traded to the Reds for Mark Jackson. One day, we'll spend a good deal of time breaking down Cesar Cedeno's career, but this post is already running long. Let's just cut to the graphic replay of the game, thanks to Back to Baseball.