Born: Apr 5, 1978
Galveston-born Brandon Backe was a pitcher who seemed to play better in pressure situations than in ordinary contests. After two years with Tampa Bay, Backe was traded to the Astros before the 2004 season for infielder Geoff Blum.
His first big start was in the final game of the 2004 regular season when he threw five innings and allowed two runs as he won the game that clinched the wild card title. Backe also notched a win in the NLDS.
Against St. Louis in the NLCS, he pitched the opening game and came back in Game 5 to toss six no-hit innings before leaving after seven shutout frames on just one hit. He got no decision in either contest but he won respect around the league with his gritty performance.
The next year, Backe made two appearances in the NLDS as Houston beat Atlanta then held St. Louis to one run in 5-2/3rds innings during a Game 4 rematch with the Cardinals in the NLCS. He tossed seven innings of shutout ball in Game 4 of the 2005 World Series as the Astros were swept by the White Sox.
Backe hurt his arm in the eighth start of the 2006 season and required surgery. He returned at the end of the 2007 campaign but did not have the same stuff as before. He was hit hard during the 2008 season and released midway during 2009 after more arm trouble.
Over six seasons with the Astros, Backe posted a 30-28 record with a 5.23 ERA but he had a 1-0 record with a 2.95 ERA over 36-2/3rds innings in the postseason.
A popular player with the fans, the former outfielder was also an exceptional hitter for a pitcher, posting a .256 average with four homers over six seasons.