2004 - Timeline
from This Date in Astros History
Jan 12 - Less than three months since retiring, pitcher Roger Clemens returns to sign a $5 million-dollar, one-year contract with the Astros. The 41-year-old holds a record six Cy Young awards. Clemens cites his Houston home and his friendship with Yankee-turned-Astro teammate Andy Pettitte among his reasons for pitching another season. The deal includes a ten-year personal services contract to remain with the organization once he retires for good. Clemens winds up giving the Astros a season to remember.
Feb 24 - Nolan Ryan returns to the Astros organization under a five-year personal services contract. Ryan and his sons own one team in the Astros farm system and plan to add another one in 2005 when the AAA affiliate moves to Round Rock, TX and the AA squad moves to Corpus Christi.
Mar 06 - Andy Pettitte, a major off-season addition, makes his Astro debut a succesful one, dropping the Braves, 9-3. The next day, Roger Clemens, the other Yankee free agent signee, wins his debut in a 15-8 clubbing of the Pirates.
Mar 25 - Houston acquires utilityman Mike Lamb from the New York Yankees in return for a minor league pitcher. Lamb bats .281 with 49 homers and 196 RBIs over four campaigns, adding five more homers in postseason play.
Mar 27 - In a scene that gave Astro veterans flashbacks, shortstop Adam Everett is hit in the face by a fastball from Toronto's Miguel Batista. Fortunately, the throw glances off Everett's shoulder before striking him in the mouth, unlike the blow that another Houston shortstop, Dickie Thon, took in 1984 that significantly altered his career. Bloodied and sore, Everett leaves the game, a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays, but returns before the regular season began.
Mar 31 - Lefthander Jeriome Robertson is dealt to the Cleveland Indians for two minor league outfielders, Willy Taveras and Luke Scott. Taveras had been claimed by Houston in the Rule V draft but had been waived and returned to Cleveland before the trade. Robertson had a 15-9 rookie season in Houston but found himself out of the rotation after the Astros snared Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens in free agency.
Apr 07 - What retirement? 41-year-old Roger Clemens makes his debut as an Astro a memorable one, blanking the Giants on one hit over seven innings to earn his 311th career victory, a 10-1 blowout. Homers by Richard Hidalgo, Jeff Bagwell and Jeff Kent support The Rocket who fans nine, including slugger Barry Bonds twice. Clemens also singles in his first at-bat as a National Leaguer.
Apr 15 - Despite a 6-2 loss to Milwaukee, reliever Brandon Backe becomes the third pitcher in franchise history to strike out the side on nine pitches. He whiffs Bill Hall, Scott Podsednik and Craig Counsell in order after having fanned Chad Moeller to end the previous frame. Craig Biggio swats the 35th leadoff homer of his career, an NL record.
Apr 23 - Mike Lamb devours Colorado pitching with four hits, including a double and triple, along with six RBIs to pace a 13-7 donnybrook over the Rockies. Craig Biggio and Orlando Palmeiro bash homers while Brandon Duckworth gets his first win as an Astro.
May 05 - Roger Clemens passes Steve Carlton to become second on the all-time strikeout list behind Nolan Ryan. He fans Pittsburgh's Raul Mondesi for his 4,137th career K. Clemens also runs his season record to 6-0 with a 6-2 victory.
May 08 - Craig Biggio spanks a leadoff single for his 2,500th career hit. He celebrates by launching solo homers in his next two at bats. But he strikes out in a key ninth-inning situation and the bullpen melts down in a 5-4 ten-inning loss in Atlanta. Andruw Jones' blast off Ricky Stone is the game-winner.
Jun 11 - Jeff Kent doubles in the second inning to set the club's hitting streak record at 25 games. He's gunned down attempting to steal third, however, and Milwaukee emerges with a 9-3 decision as Scott Podsednik homers and drives in four.
Jun 13 - Brad Lidge has a four-strikeout seventh inning against the Brewers during a 5-4 victory. The last three come after Lidge had filled the bases with a hit batsman, a balk, a wild pitch on strike three and a walk. Milwaukee starter Ben Sheets also joins the record books with a "perfect inning", fanning Pete Munro, Craig Biggio and Jose Vizcaino in the third on nine pitches. Dan Miceli gets the win.
Jun 24 - Roger Clemens becomes the majors' first ten-game winner by nipping the Pirates, 3-2, but the buzz is about a three-way trade with Kansas City and Oakland that brings All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran to Houston for closer Octavio Dotel, minor league catcher John Buck and cash. The Astros greet Beltran in fourth place in the Central Division, just four games over .500 and five games behind St. Louis in the standings.
Jul 02 - Morgan Ensberg, who had smacked 25 homers the year before, belts his first homer - 213 at-bats into the season . The blast is a dramatic two-run bomb over the railroad tracks in left field in the eighth to give Houston a 7-5 comeback victory over the Texas Rangers. Ensberg swats a grand slam the next night in a 10-8 win that overcomes a five-run deficit.
Jul 13 - Houston hosts the All-Star Game for the third time. Four Astros are named to the National League team and three start but the American League leaves with a 9-4 victory, buoyed by a six-run first inning off Roger Clemens. Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran single before the Minute Maid Park crowd while Lance Berkman mans center field . Local fans boo manager Jimy Williams when he is introduced. It will be the last time as he and two coaches are fired the next day. Former Astro infielder Phil Garner is named interim manager.
Aug 15 - Down 4-2 in the ninth, the Astros rally for three runs to nip the Expos, 5-4. Jason Lane and Orlando Palmeiro deliver RBI singles. Carlos Beltran delivers a two-run homer in the first. With a record of 57-60, Houston is 19-1/2 games in back of St. Louis and six games behind wild card leaders Chicago and San Francisco. The ninth-inning rally sparks a two-month run unmatched in franchise history.
Aug 19 - First the Astros turn a triple play then turn around a huge deficit in a 12-10 triumph in Philadelphia. The trifecta goes 5-4-3 off the bat of Todd Pratt in the fifth with Morgan Ensberg touching third, tossing to Jeff Kent at second for the force and Kent relaying to Mike Lamb at first to end the inning . But the Phils led 7-2. Next came a three-homer Houston assault in the seventh with Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman launching two-run shots before Eric Bruntlett topped them with a three-run blast for a 10-7 lead. A two-run double from Kent is needed to survive the final rally, giving Chad Qualls his first major league win. Lamb also steals home.
Aug 27 - Carlos Beltran's two home runs lead a five-dinger barrage as Houston clubs the Cubs, 15-7. Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent and Lance Berkman also supply the long ball. Roy Oswalt wins his 15th despite harassment from Chicago's Michael Barrett who is still upset over being hit by Oswalt the previous weekend in Houston. Oswalt is plunked by Kent Mercker but nobody is tossed despite the war of words.
Aug 31 - Given up for dead, the Astros win their fifth straight to creep back within three games of the National League wild card lead. The home run bats go to work in an 8-0 triumph over Cincinnati as Jeff Kent goes deep twice while Carlos Beltran, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman go back-to-back-to-back in the fourth off Aaron Harang. Brandon Backe gets the shutout with help from three relievers. Houston still needs to overtake four other teams in order to get back to the postseason.
Sep 03 - Roger Clemens claims his 325th career victory, passing Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton, two former Astros, for 12th place on the all-time wins list. He does so in an 8-6 triumph over Pittsburgh. Home runs by Jose Vizcaino, Carlos Beltran, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell stake Clemens to a 7-0 lead but he gives up six runs in the seventh before leaving. Lance Berkman adds an insurance tally while the bullpen quiets the Bucs. It is Clemens' 15th win of the season and Houston's seventh straight as they climb within 2-1/2 games of Chicago for the wild card playoff spot.
Sep 08 - Once down by seven games in the Wild Card standings and behind five other clubs, the Astros come all the way back on the wings of their 12th straight win, a 5-2 triumph over Cincinnati, clinching their third straight series sweep. Four homers in the first inning (by Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Mike Lamb) is all Roger Clemens needs to get his 16th win, the 326th of his career, passing Eddie Plank for 11th on the All-Time wins list. The Astros tie the club record for winning streaks, set in 1999. The victory, however, ends their streak of eleven straight games scoring six or more runs, not done since the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in 1895.
Sep 19 - Roger Clemens and Brad Lidge combine to blank the Brewers, 1-0, on a two-hitter while striking out 13. Clemens claims the 328th win of his career, becoming the tenth best of all time. He provides offense, too, driving in the game's only run and later blasting a double - one of just four Houston hits. Craig Biggio also doubles to move past Eddie Murray into 18th all-time in that category. The win keeps Houston a half-game behind Chicago and tied with San Francisco in the wild card race.
Sep 23 - Lance Berkman tags Dustin Hermanson with a three-run bomb in the ninth inning that keys a 7-3 win in San Francisco when it appeared the Giants were set to sweep the three-game series . The blast ignites a five-run outburst that would prove to be important in the season's final weekend. Berkman tops the 100-RBI mark for the third time in four seasons.
Sep 26 - Backup catcher Raul Chavez drives in five as Houston outslugs Milwaukee, 11-7. Morgan Ensberg adds four hits. Jeff Kent and Lance Berkman go deep. The Astros are 1-1/2 games behind the Cubs in the hunt for the final playoff berth.
Oct 02 - Roy Oswalt becomes the National League's only 20-game winner with a 9-3 triumph over Colorado. Craig Biggio smashes two homers to set a career high. Jeff Kent goes yard to set a career record for home runs by a second baseman with 278. More importantly, the win clinches a tie for the wild card spot when ex-Astro Steve Finley belts a walk-off grand slam to give the Dodgers a 7-3 verdict over the Giants. The next day, Brandon Backe clinches the berth for Houston with a 5-3 victory, giving the Astros a 92-70 mark . They finished the year winning 36 of their last 46 games and 18 straight at home.
Oct 06 - Houston gets the jump on Atlanta in Game One of the N.L.D.S. with a 9-3 rout behind Roger Clemens and four home runs. Brad Ausmus, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and Jason Lane provide the long balls . Clemens, pitching while recovering from the stomach flu, lasts seven innings. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, goats of postseasons past, both deliver hits to start the series.
Oct 07 - A two-run homer in the 11th by Rafael Furcal off Dan Miceli gives Atlanta a 4-2 decision over Houston in Game Two of the N.L.D.S. to tie the best-of-five series. The Braves outlast Roy Oswalt then attack the bullpen late. Solo homers by Jeff Bagwell and Raul Chavez give the Astros their only runs.
Oct 09 - The Astros hold on for an 8-5 triumph over the Braves in Game Three of the N.L.D.S., taking a 2-1 lead in the series. Morgan Ensberg drives in three while Carlos Beltran drives in a pair with a homer and a double . Brandon Backe works the first six innings for the victory but watches the bullpen struggle again.
Oct 10 - Craig Biggio pops his first postseason home run and Houston leads Atlanta, 5-2, in Game Four of the N.L.D.S. with a chance to advance. Then Chad Qualls gives up a three-run homer to Adam Laroche and the Braves push across the winning run in the ninth to steal a 6-5 verdict and fly back to Atlanta for a decisive fifth game. Jeff Kent rolls into a double play with two men on in the bottom of the ninth to end a painful day - made worse by the news of ex-teammate Ken Caminiti's death in New York at age 41.
Oct 11 - In their eighth try, the Astros finally win a postseason series, blowing out the Braves, 12-3, in Game Five of the N.L.D.S. Carlos Beltran steals the show with two home runs and five RBIs in a four-hit performance . Craig Biggio adds three hits while Jeff Bagwell slams a two-run shot. Roy Oswalt, on short rest, goes five gutty innings for the victory. The win is even sweeter, having vanquished a foe that had beaten them nine-games-out-of-ten in three previous postseason matchups.
Oct 13 - A six-run sixth inning puts the Cardinals out of reach as they outslug the Astros, 10-7, in Game One of the N.L.C.S. in St. Louis. Brandon Backe and Chad Qualls are torched by the league's most potent offense, despite receiving home run support from Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Jeff Kent and Mike Lamb .
Oct 14 - The Cardinals build a 2-0 lead in the N.L.C.S. with a 6-4 verdict in the rain. Houston's 3-0 lead, buoyed by homers from Carlos Beltran and Morgan Ensberg, is washed away in a four-run Redbird fifth inning. Dan Miceli then serves up the decisive runs on back-to-back blasts by Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen in the eighth.
Oct 16 - Roger Clemens cools off the Cardinal bats with seven innings of four-hit ball as the Astros win Game Three of the N.L.C.S., 5-2. Jeff Kent homers in the opening frame and Houston nurses a 3-2 advantage until Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman drill solo shots to give the bullpen some breathing room . St. Louis still leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
Oct 17 - Carlos Beltran homers off Julian Tavarez in the seventh to give the Astros a 6-5 triumph in Game Four of the N.L.C.S., evening the series at 2-2 . It is Beltran's seventh straight postseason game with a home run, setting a new record. It's also his eighth in this postseason to tie him with Barry Bonds for that mark. Houston tied it the inning before on a solo shot by Lance Berkman and a run-scoring single by Raul Chavez. Dan Wheeler and Brad Lidge silence the Redbirds after Roy Oswalt pitched the first six innings.
Oct 18 - In a classic postseason pitching duel, Houston's Brandon Backe and St. Louis' Woody Williams trade one-hit performances over the first seven innings. Backe keeps his no-hit bid until a two-out single by Tony Womack in the sixth and allows just that for eight innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Jeff Kent belts a mammoth three-run homer off Jason Isringhausen to send the crowd into delirium, a 3-0 triumph in Game Five and a 3-2 lead in the N.L.C.S., needing just one win in Missouri to reach the World Series.
Oct 20 - Jeff Bagwell ties the Cardinals, 4-4, with a clutch two-out single in the ninth in Game Six of the N.L.C.S. but Jim Edmonds gives St. Louis the 6-4 decision with a two-run homer off Dan Miceli in the 12th to tie the series at three games each. Pete Munro was the surprise starter, lasting just 2-1/3 innings and giving up four runs, but the shaky Houston bullpen holds off the Redbirds until the fatal twelfth.
Oct 21 - Heartbreak again. Houston owns a 2-1 lead with Roger Clemens on the hill in the decisive Game Seven of the N.L.C.S. but Albert Pujols ties it with a double in the sixth then Scott Rolen unties it on the next pitch with a two-run homer. The Cardinals tack on an insurance run and win the series, 5-2, behind Jeff Suppan. Craig Biggio started the night perfectly with a solo homer . While not as close as the 1980 World Series, the Astros were in sniffing distance of this one before falling short. Still, they could look back on an improbable season that featured an amazing streak to make the playoffs and the first postseason series win in their history.
Oct 28 - Houston agrees to pick up the contract option on outfielder Craig Biggio, assuring him an 18th season in an Astros uniform. Biggio owns franchise records in several categories and is coming off a season where he hits .281 with 24 home runs.
Nov 01 - Gerry Hunsicker resigns as General Manager after nine seasons. Assistant GM Tim Purpura is promoted to replace him. Hunsicker oversaw five teams that reached the National League playoffs. Purpura's first priority will be attempting to re-sign free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran who starred in the postseason.
Nov 05 - Off-seasons can be hazardous to your health, part two. Lance Berkman tears the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing flag football at a church outing. He misses the first six weeks of the 2005 season but rebounds with 24 homers and 82 RBIs to anchor the Astros lineup.
Nov 09 - Roger Clemens wins a record seventh Cy Young Award, his first as a National Leaguer, making him the oldest pitcher to win that honor. Clemens sported an 18-4 record with a 2.90 ERA in Houston. He recieves 23 of 32 first place votes. Former Astro Randy Johnson of Arizona finishes second. Clemens' teammate Roy Oswalt, the league's only 20-game winner, finishes third.