1981 - Timeline
from This Date in Astros History

Feb 11 - Catcher Bruce Bochy is dealt to the Mets for two minor leaguers. Bochy spent parts of three seasons with the Astros and is best remembered for the forearm he took from Pete Rose in Game 4 of the 1980 N.L.C.S. Later he becomes the manager for the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants.

Apr 01 - Astros deal pitcher Ken Forsch to the Angels for shortstop Dickie Thon. The versatile righthander compiled a 78-81 record for Houston, with 50 saves, nine shutouts, a 3.18 ERA and one memorable no-hitter.

Apr 11 - Don Sutton, signed as a free agent from Los Angeles over the winter, makes his Astro debut against the Dodgers, and surrenders six runs in a 7-4 loss.

Apr 26 - Bob Knepper tosses his second consecutive shutout, a 1-0 whitewash over Cincinnati. Denny Walling 's homer off Mario Soto accounts for the game's only run. Walling also supplies a defensive gem, an over-the shoulder grab with two men aboard to thwart a Red threat.

May 13 - Don Sutton twirls a five-hit shutout to blank St. Louis, 3-0. Art Howe adds a two-run homer. Off the field, Mike Ivie is hospitalized for mental exhaustion less than a month after he was traded to Houston for Jeff Leonard and Dave Bergman. Expected to be the cleanup hitter, Ivie bats .237 with no homers in 19 games. He will miss the rest of the season.

May 16 - Craig Reynolds ties a major-league mark with three triples during a 6-1 victory over Chicago. It is part of a four-hit night with four RBIs. His first triple sails to the gap in right-center. His other two hug the right field line. Nolan Ryan and Joe Sambito team up to tame the Cubs.

May 24 - Art Howe triples off Vida Blue to set a club-record 23-game hitting streak. San Francisco wins, however, 2-1. The only Houston run is on a solo shot by Luis Pujols.

May 30 - Rafael Landestoy steals a base and scores on a single by Terry Puhl as Houston outlasts the Giants, 8-7, in 14 innings. The Astros blew a lead in the ninth then blew a three-run lead in the 13th before putting this one away. Houston tallies 21 hits in the effort, including three by Joe Niekro.

Jun 05 - Nolan Ryan breaks the major league record for career bases on balls issued during a 3-0 shutout over the Mets. His second pass of the night eclipses the mark of Early Wynn. Ryan also strikes out ten.

Jun 10 - Pete Rose of Philadelphia singles against Nolan Ryan to tie Stan Musial for the most hits in league history (3,630). Ryan would fan Rose in his final three at-bats before a two-month strike begins the next day. The strike is one day too late for Frank LaCorte who blows a 4-0 lead in a 5-4 Phillies verdict.

Aug 10 - Baseball's "second season" begins after a two-month strike interrupts play. Denny Walling is the hero with a two-run pinch-hit double off Al Holland in the ninth for a 6-5 triumph in San Francisco. Joe "Shoes" Pittman rescues Frank Lacorte when he makes a diving stab of Larry Herndon's liner with two men aboard for the final out.

Aug 16 - Joe Niekro and Dave Smith combine on a two-hitter to blank San Diego, 3-0. Niekro and Steve Mura trade goose eggs for seven innings until Tony Scott drives home Joe Pittman in the eighth. Gary Woods then delivers Scott. In the ninth, Scott again plates Pittman with an insurance run. The shutout caps a seven-game road trip to open the "second season", with the Astros winning five of them.

Sep 02 - Bob Knepper hurls a three-hitter as Houston blanks the Mets, 8-0, to take over first place in the second-half standings. Knepper adds a two-run double to his cause. Alan Ashby and Tony Scott deliver four hits each in the 16-hit assault. Their victim? A lad named Mike Scott.

Sep 20 - A nutty day at Candlestick Park begins when a skydiver misses the stadium and crashes into the parking lot, breaking both feet. Gary Woods is lifted for pinch-hitter Terry Puhl in the top of the first inning. Nolan Ryan's apparent single to right fails when he is gunned down at first by Jack Clark. Tony Scott, who stars with four hits including a double and a homer, is tagged out at second after advancing on a base on balls. Somehow, Houston wins, 7-3.

Sep 26 - Nolan Ryan becomes the only player in baseball history to pitch five no-hitters, blanking the Dodgers, 5-0, before a national television audience . Ryan whiffs eleven and walks three in the masterpiece. Nolan's gem matters even more since the Astros are nursing a slim lead over Cincinnati in the N.L. West split-season race.

Oct 04 - Houston finishes the strike-ravaged season with a 5-3 victory over the Dodgers. Scott Loucks and Alan Knicely star as Dave Smith is the winning pitcher. The Astros win the second-half N.L. West title with a 30-23 record. Their full-season record is 58-52, third best in the division behind Cincinnati and first-half champion Los Angeles, who they will meet in a first-ever divisional playoff series.

Oct 06 - Alan Ashby, as if waiting a year for revenge, slams a two-out two-run homer off Dave Stewart in the ninth to stun the Dodgers, 3-1, in Game One of their divisional playoff series . Tony Scott had driven in Terry Puhl earlier but Los Angeles ties it up on a solo shot from Steve Garvey, one of just two hits given up by Nolan Ryan.

Oct 07 - Denny Walling delivers a bases-loaded single in the 11th inning for a 1-0 triumph over the Dodgers at the Astrodome. Joe Niekro, Dave Smith and Joe Sambito combine for the shutout. The victory puts the Astros ahead, 2-0, in their five-game divisional series. Like the year before, Houston needs to win just one of three in Los Angeles to advance to the N.L.C.S.

Oct 09 - Burt Hooton spins a three-hitter as the Dodgers take a 6-1 verdict in Game Three of their best-of-five division playoff. The Astros still lead the series, 2-1. Art Howe's solo shot is the only Houston heroics. Steve Garvey's two-run blast in the first puts Los Angeles ahead to stay.

Oct 10 - Fernando Valenzuela outpitches Vern Ruhle in a 2-1 decision in Los Angeles. Only eight hits are registered, four by each side, but a homer by Pedro Guerrero and an RBI single by Bill Russell trump last-inning heroics by Terry Puhl and Tony Scott. The series is knotted at two games apiece.

Oct 11 - Jerry Reuss of the Dodgers shuts out the Astros on a five-hitter, 4-0, winning the divisional series, 3-2. Nolan Ryan is reached for three runs in the sixth while Houston's bats, as one writer put it, died in their sleep. The Astros manage just twelve hits and two runs over three days of one-win-to-clinch baseball.

Dec 09 - Astros trade outfielder Gary Woods to the Cubs for outfielder Jim Tracy. Woods had hit .377 as a September call-up in 1980 but reverted to .209 the next season. Tracy never makes it into a regular season game for Houston but he will one day become the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Colorado Rockies.

Dec 18 - Outfielder Cesar Cedeno is traded to Cincinnati for infielder Ray Knight. It ends a 12-year run in Houston for Cedeno who bats .289 as an Astro with 163 HRs, 778 RBIs, 487 steals and four All-Star appearances.

Dec 25 - Willy Taveras is born in Tenares, DR.After two seasons in Houston (2005-2006), the fleet outfielder leaves with a .284 batting average and 68 stolen bases, finishing second in the 2005 N.L. Rookie of the Year balloting and holding the club record with a 30-game hitting streak.