1973 - Season Recap
(c) Bob Hulsey

The bombing continued the following year as the same five Astros delivered 16 or more homers . But the run production tapered off. Houston scored 27 fewer runs even though they played nine more games. Lee May paced the team with 28 homers, including three in one game against the San Diego Padres on June 21st, and 105 RBIs. Cesar Cedeno batted .320, pounded 25 homers and swiped a club record 56 bases. Bob Watson hit at a .312 clip and drove in 94 runs. Doug Rader drilled 21 long balls and drove home 89 runs. Jim Wynn contributed 20 homers despite a season-long slump.

Tommy Helms and Roger Metzger, though lacking in the power numbers, both hit .250 or above and displayed solid defensive work around second base. Metzger led the National League with 14 triples. Helms provided clutch hits like the two-run single that completed a 9-7 comeback win in Montreal on July 8th.

The only major change to the lineup was an illness that forced catcher Johnny Edwards to sit. Skip Jutze, acquired from St. Louis during the off-season with Johnny Bench-like raves, filled in well behind the plate but he hit just .223 with no homers while standing next to it.

It was the pitching that faltered. Larry Dierker and Tom Griffin both missed substantial time with injuries. Don Wilson struggled and spent time in the bullpen. Dave Roberts (17 wins) and Jerry Reuss (16 wins) stepped up to lead the staff. Ken Forsch and J.R. Richard took turns in the rotation. Richard got his first big league shutout against the Dodgers on August 1st. The bullpen was a mess, with nobody earning more than six saves.

Leo Durocher complained about the modern ballplayer, took ill during midseason, and decided that retirement wasn't such a bad idea. Nobody knew it at the time, but the season finale in Atlanta would be the last of his Hall-Of-Fame career. The stadium was packed on September 30th but it wasn't to say goodbye to Leo. After a blast against Reuss in the previous game, Hank Aaron was one homer shy of Babe Ruth's career home run record. Many VIPs, including Gov. Jimmy Carter, came to see Aaron tie and maybe break baseball's most hallowed mark. Dave Roberts "held" Aaron to three singles and Houston won, 5-3. Durocher went out as a winner with his club finishing 82-80, even though they had slid back to fourth place.

82-80
4th place, NL West

Key BattersHRRBIAVG
C Skip Jutze 018.223
1B Lee May 28105.270
2B Tommy Helms 461.287
3B Doug Rader 2189.254
SS Roger Metzger 135.250
LF Bob Watson 1694.312
CF Cesar Cedeno 2570.320
RF Jim Wynn 2055.220
C Johnny Edwards 527.244
OF Tommy Agee 815.235
OF Bob Gallagher 210.264
IF Jimmy Stewart 03.191
Key PitchersWLERA
SP Jerry Reuss 16133.74
SP Dave Roberts 17112.85
SP Don Wilson 11163.20
SP Ken Forsch 9124.20
SP J.R. Richard 624.00
CL Jim York 344.42
RP Jim Crawford 244.50
RP Jim Ray 644.43
RP Tom Griffin 464.15


Reuss: combined with fellow lefty
Roberts to win 33 games

(c) Houston Astros

Durocher: Doing what he did best
(c) Houston Astros


From The AstrosDaily Media Library

Video:
1970 to 1974: Frustrating Times - From "Houston Astros: A Silver Odyssey" - Winning baseball comes to Houston but not postseason baseball. (1:18 - MLB video)
1973 All-Star Game - 3rd inning - Cesar Cedeno singles against Bert Blyleven to drive in a run. (1:20, Nelson - MLB Films)

Audio:
May 7, 1973 Tommy Helms makes a big defensive stop against Atlanta. (0:20, Elston - Astros)
Jun 15, 1973 Lee May notches his 1,000th career hit. (0:35, Passe - Astros)
Jun 21, 1973 Tommy Helms belts a grand slam in San Diego. (0:20, Passe - Astros)
Jun 21, 1973 Lee May tops hits his third homer of the day. (0:36, Elston - Astros)
Jun 24, 1973 Cesar Cedeno takes the Giants deep with the sacks full. (0:29, Astros)
Jul 29, 1973 Lee May hits a tater against the Braves. (0:18, Elston - Astros)
Aug 1, 1973 J.R. Richard blanks the Dodgers for his first shutout. (0:29, Elston - Astros)
Sep 29, 1973 Atlanta's Hank Aaron homers off Jerry Reuss for Number 713. (1:01, Passe - Astros)


Trades and Transactions

Nov 27 1972 - traded Rich Chiles(OF) and Buddy Harris(P) to NY-N for Tommie Agee(OF)

Nov 27 1972 - Winter Major League Draft
- drafted Bob Gallagher(OF) from Bos-A

Nov 28 1972 - traded Ray Busse(IF) and Bobby Fenwick(IF) to StL-N for Skip Jutze(C) and Milt Ramirez(IF)

Jan 9 1973 - signed Luis Pujols(C) as non-drafted free agent

Jan 10 1973 - Supplemental Free Agent Draft
- 1. drafted Mike Stanton(P) in secondary phase

Mar 26 1973 - sent George Culver(P) to LA-N for cash

Mar 28 1973 - sent Bob Stinson(C) to Mon-N for cash

Apr 4 1973 - paid cash to Mon-N for Hector Torres(IF)

Apr 22 1973 - traded Norm Miller(OF) to Atl-N for Cecil Upshaw(P)

May 22 1973 - traded Larry Howard(C) to Atl-N for Tom Heierle

Jun 5 1973 - Summer Free Agent Draft
- 1. drafted Calvin Portley(IF) (#20 pick overall)
- 5. drafted Mike Mendoza(P)
- 17. drafted Joe Sambito(P)

Jun 8 1973 - traded Stan Papi to StL-N for Ray Busse(IF)

Jun 30 1973 - signed Gordy Pladson(P) as a free agent

Jul 8 1973 - paid cash to Chi-N for Juan Pizarro(P)

Jul 31 1973 - sent Jesus Alou(OF) to Oak-A for cash

Aug 18 1973 - traded Tommie Agee(OF) to StL-N for Dave Campbell(IF) and cash

Sep 19 1973 - signed Terry Puhl(OF) as free agent

Oct 9 1973 - released Fred Gladding(P)

Oct 23 1973 - released Jimmy Stewart(IF)

Oct 23 1973 - paid cash to StL-N for Mick Kelleher(IF)

Oct 23 1973 - traded Hector Torres(IF) to Chi-A for Dan Neumeier. Hou received Neumeier on Dec 4.

Oct 31 1973 - traded Jerry Reuss(P) to Pit-N for Milt May(C)