Astros’ final-day playoff-clincher video games


This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat e-newsletter. To learn the complete e-newsletter, click on right here. And subscribe to get it commonly in your inbox.

The Astros’ stranglehold on the American League West is slightly tenuous coming into the ultimate 4 video games of the common season, with the Rangers main Houston by 2 1/2 video games. Houston is clinging to the ultimate Wild Card spot within the AL with a half-game lead over the Mariners, so the race figures to come back right down to the wire.

Whereas the Astros have blown away the AL West lately — they’ve gained the final 5 division titles competed in a full season by a mean of 11.6 video games — the final week of the common season has sometimes been with out a lot drama. That hasn’t at all times been the case.

Right here’s a take a look at 5 instances the Astros clinched a playoff spot on the ultimate day of the common season:

1980 NL West
Needing one win in opposition to the Dodgers within the ultimate three video games of the season to safe the NL West title, the Astros marched into Dodger Stadium and misplaced three consecutive one-run video games, forcing a one-game playoff for the division title the next day. Recreation No. 163 turned out to be one of many largest days in Astros historical past, because of a superb pitching efficiency by knuckleballer Joe Niekro, who threw a six-hit full recreation, and infielder Artwork Howe, who went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer within the third inning. The Astros needed to fly instantly to Philadelphia and misplaced an epic NLCS to the Phillies.

2001 NL Central
Having misplaced seven of their final eight video games coming into the ultimate day of the season, the Astros nonetheless wanted one win to clinch their fourth NL Central title in 5 years. Richard Hidalgo and Jeff Bagwell homered, and Shane Reynolds held St. Louis to at least one run in 7 1/3 innings for his one centesimal profession win as Houston beat St. Louis, 9-2. The Astros and Cardinals each completed with equivalent 93-69 data, however the Astros have been awarded the division title as a result of they gained the season sequence from St. Louis. The Braves eradicated the Astros within the NLDS for the third time in 5 seasons.

2004 NL Wild Card
Expectations have been sky-high in 2004 after the Astros signed Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, placing them on the high of the rotation with ace Roy Oswalt. However the Astros stumbled within the first half of the season and have been a disappointing 44-44 on the All-Star break. Supervisor Jimy Williams was fired and changed by Phil Garner, who led the Astros to a 36-10 report down the stretch — together with successful their ultimate 18 residence video games — to clinch the lone NL Wild Card on the ultimate day of the season (ending one recreation forward of the Giants). Brandon Backe began Recreation 162 rather than Clemens, who was sick, and allowed two runs and 5 hits in 5 innings for the win. The Astros beat the Braves within the NLDS earlier than shedding to the Cardinals within the NLCS.

2005 NL Wild Card
After successful the primary playoff sequence in franchise historical past in 2004, the ‘05 Astros received off one other poor begin at 15-30. They have been 19-32 on the finish of Might and in final place within the NL Central. They trailed the first-place Cardinals by 14 video games, prompting the Houston Chronicle to print a tombstone in its June 1 version, declaring the season was over. Oops. Houston completed 44-18, successful 13 of its ultimate 18 video games to achieve the playoffs. The Astros clinched the Wild Card on the ultimate day, ending one recreation forward of the Phillies. Houston was the primary workforce make the postseason after falling 15 video games underneath .500 because the 1914 Boston Braves. After beating the Braves in 4 video games within the NLDS and beating the Cardinals in six video games within the NLCS, they have been swept by the White Sox within the World Collection.

2015 AL Wild Card
Coming off a 70-92 season that was a 19-game enchancment from the 111-loss membership of 2013, the Astros surprisingly made the playoffs underneath first-year supervisor A.J. Hinch. They gained 14 of 15 video games in late April and early Might and jumped out into first place within the AL West at 18-7. The Astros spent 139 days in first place earlier than an 11-16 September allowed the Rangers to surpass them and win the division. The Astros clinched the Wild Card on the ultimate day of the season when the Rangers beat the Angels. Houston beat the Yankees within the Wild Card Recreation earlier than shedding in 5 video games to the eventual World Collection champion Royals within the ALDS.

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