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2004 - Season Recap
by Scott Barzilla and Bob Hulsey

Season Summary
by Bob Hulsey

In their 42-year history, the Astros had never had a year like this one - a season filled with so much anticipation and then so much disappointment only to then go on such a hot streak when everyone had left them for dead, clinching a wild card playoff berth on the last day of the season and then taking two postseason series to the limit. As they had done the first time they made the playoffs in 1980, they ended one win short of making the World Series but it was a roller coaster ride fans will not soon forget.

It started when lefthader Andy Pettitte, a man with more postseason wins than the Houston franchise at the time, signed as a free agent. Pettitte then convinced his best friend, Yankee teammate and Houston resident Roger Clemens, to end his brief retirement and join him. Clemens, a certain Hall-of-Famer with over 300 wins, made Houston fans giddy with excitement. The Astros already had two quality starters in Wade Miller and Roy Oswalt so the thought of having four great pitchers in the rotation to go with an explosive offense made Houston fans optimistic of a championship. Owner Drayton McLane had proclaimed 2004 "our year".

The season started out well, going 13-9 in April and staying close to the fast-starting St. Louis Cardinals. But Pettitte's elbow landed him on the disabled list and the bats slumped in May. They were under .500 for June and were falling well behind the Cardinals. Many blamed Manager Jimy Williams for the losses but McLane did not want to make a change until after the All-Star Game, hosted at Minute Maid Park.

In late June, the team received a boost when it landed imminent free agent center fielder Carlos Beltran from Kansas City in exchange for closer Octavio Dotel and a minor league catcher. The bullpen regrouped with Brad Lidge as the new closer but the set-up pitching was questionable at best. The situation became worse when Miller was lost for the rest of the season to a shoulder injury. Later, Pettitte was lost again to elbow surgery.

Houston skidded into the All-Star Break at 44-44, in fifth place in the division and 10-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. After he was booed by the home crowd when introduced on national television at the All-Star Game, Williams was fired. Former Astro infielder Phil Garner took the reins.

The additions of Beltran and Garner didn't seem to help much and a season that began with such promise was deserted by almost everyone by August 14th when the club fell to 56-60, 19-1/2 games behind St. Louis and seven games behind the Chicago Cubs for the wild card berth.

Only the Astros themselves must have felt they still had a chance and, with a comeback win in Montreal the next day, the ballclub began their rise from the ashes. They won eight of their next ten, and, after a loss to the Cubs on August 26th, reeled off a team-record 12 straight victories to vault back into the race. The once-lethargic bats came alive, scoring seven or more runs in ten of those wins, What was left of the rotation featured Clemens (18-4, 2.98 ERA) and Oswalt (20-10, 3.49) surrounded by a hodgepodge of converted reliever Brandon Backe (5-3, 4.30), Tim Redding (5-7, 5.72), Pete Munro (4-7, 5.15) and Carlos Hernandez (1-3, 6.43).

Behind an offense led by outfielders Lance Berkman (.316 average, 30 HRs, 106 RBIs), Craig Biggio (.281, 24, 63) and Beltran (.258, 23, 53) as well as infielders Jeff Bagwell (.266, 27,89) and Jeff Kent (.289, 27,107), Houston's offense became more aggressive and got hot in the nick of time, passing Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, Florida, San Diego and Chicago in the wild card standings.

On the final weekend of the season, while ex-Astro Steve Finley and the Dodgers put the final nail in San Francisco's chances, the Astros swept the Rockies for their seventh straight win to clinch the last playoff berth on the last day of the season. It had been an amazing run, going 36-10 from August 15th to October 3rd, ending with a record of 92-70. Perhaps it could still be "our year" after all.

The club could look back on some milestones. Clemens struck out Raul Mondesi in a 6-2 win on May 5th to pass Steve Carlton for second place behind Nolan Ryan on the all-time strikeout list with 4,137. He also posted his 329th victory to rank tenth all-time and capped off his year with his seventh Cy Young Award. Biggio achieved his 2,500th career hit against Atlanta on May 8th. Kent set a new team record with a 25-game hitting streak climaxing on June 11th at Milwaukee. Lidge struck out four batters in an inning while Backe struck out the side on nine pitches.

The Clincher...

Clemens was slated to pitch the season finale and get the Astros into the playoffs but a stomach virus made him too weak to go. Backe, a converted outfielder who became a reliever and was then turned into a starting pitcher earlier in the season, was chosen instead to beat the Rockies.

Being a former outfielder helped as Backe stroked a two-run single in the second to give himself an early lead. Berkman, Kent and Jose Vizcaino followed with run-producing hits in the third for a 5-0 advantage.

With two on in the sixth, Chad Harville took the mound. Backe sat in the dugout as Harville, Mike Gallo, Chad Qualls, Russ Springer and Dan Miceli each had their turns to subdue the Colorado lineup.The Rockies closed the margin to 5-3.

Lidge came in to get four strikeouts for the final four outs, sending the full Minute Maid Park crowd into celebration. Clemens had two more days to rest up and start Game One of the playoffs.

The NLDS... (Full Recap)

Houston traveled to Atlanta, facing a ballclub that had eliminated the Astros in three of their past four playoff series. Clemens was still weak and allowed a run in the first inning. In the third, Houston bats teed off on Jaret Wright and never looked back. Brad Ausmus started with a solo homer to tie the game. Bagwell plated Beltran with a two-out double and Berkman unloaded a two-run shot into the Braves' bullpen for a 4-1 lead. A two-run homer by Beltran in the fifth expanded the lead and Jason Lane swatted a long ball in the ninth to cap a 9-3 victory. Bagwell and Raul Chavez homered in Game Two but Atlanta tied it at 2-2 late against Lidge. Rafael Furcal won it for Atlanta in the 11th with a two-run shot off Miceli.

Back in Houston, Backe pitched six strong innings to win Game Three, 8-5. Beltran homered again and Morgan Ensberg drove in three. Clemens returned to the hill for Game Four and benefited from a five-run second inning, highlighted by a three-run homer from Biggio but the Braves tied it in the sixth when Adam Laroche drilled a three-run shot off Qualls. It became a battle of the bullpens until J.D. Drew drove home Furcal in the ninth to lead, 6-5, then John Smoltz induced a game-winning double-play grounder from Kent to even the series at 2-2.

The loss brought back a lot of bad memories about missed chances against the Braves in the post-season. After the game came news of the shocking death of former Astro Ken Caminiti at age 41. Some of his friends and former teammates had to play perhaps the biggest game of their careers with hearts of sorrow. Back in Atlanta for the decisive Game Five, Beltran stepped forward with four hits, two solo homers and five RBIs as the Astros made sure the Braves had no more comebacks left, clubbing Atlanta, 12-3, for Houston's first post-season series victory in franchise history. Beltran was voted series MVP with his four-homer .455-hitting performance.

For such a big occasion, the clubhouse celebration was muted. Veterans like Biggio and Bagwell had been through too much emotionally in the past week to jump for joy. A weary Bagwell said, "It's great to move on. Finally." The road would get no easier in the next round.

The NLCS... (Full Recap)

Beltran picked up where he left off, smashing a two-run homer in the first inning at St. Louis but the Cardinals answered immediately with a two-run shot by Albert Pujols. Kent, Berkman and Mike Lanb also went deep for the Astros but it was not enough in a 10-7 Game One loss. Beltran and Ensberg clubbed homers in Game Two but St. Louis belted four, including back-to-back shots in the eighth by Pujols and Scott Rolen off Miceli for a 6-4 decision. The Cardinals traveled to Houston with a 2-0 series edge.

Kent's two-run bomb in the first staked the Astros to an early lead in Game Three then Beltran and Berkman homered in the eighth for a 5-2 victory behind the pitching of Clemens and Lidge. Beltran was the hero again in Game Four as he hit what proved to be the game-winning homer in the seventh for a 6-5 triumph that evened the series at two all.

Backe pitched the game of his life in Game Five, tossing eight innings of one-hit ball but the Astros were having just as much trouble against Woody Williams. Finally, in the bottom of the ninth, Kent smacked a game-winning three-run shot off Jason Isringhausen for a 3-0 stunner. The Astros were one win away from the World Series with two chances to clinch.

Returning to St. Louis for Game Six, Garner chose Munro to start. He allowed four runs in less than three innings and the bullpen had to hold the fort. The offense scrapped back and tied the game at 4-4 in the ninth on Bagwell's RBI single. The battle lasted until the 12th when Jim Edmonds settled it with a two-run homer off Miceli for a 6-4 verdict. In Game Seven, 42-year-old Clemens was given an early 2-0 lead but disaster struck in the sixth when Pujols tied the game then Rolen untied it with a two-run homer. The Cardinals got an insurance run and celebrated a 5-2 victory which sent them to the World Series.

The Astros could take satisfaction that they had finally won a postseason series but disappointment in not surviving to the Fall Classic. Biggio and Bagwell, mired in previous playoff failures, showed they could put on clutch performances in October after all. Given where they had come from in mid-August, the Astros delivered an impressive finish matched only by the 1951 New York Giants which re-energized the baseball fans of Houston.

Season Chronology
by Scott Barzilla

January 12, 2004
This is a banner day in the history of the Astros. Six time Cy Young award winner
Roger Clemens signs a one year contract with the club. Clemens followed one of his best friends in baseball (Andy Pettitte) to Houston to give the Astros one of the best rotations on paper. Andy Pettitte didn t live up to his end of the bargain, but no one can criticize Roger Clemens after he won eighteen games and won his seventh Cy Young award.

January 16, 2004
The Astros made one of their more peculiar signings by bringing Orlando Palmeiro in to be a reserve outfielder. The Palmeiro experiment will inexplicably continue into 2005 despite all data indicating that he should have been sent on his way. Gerry Hunsicker was a great general manager for the Astros, but Palmeiro represents one of his biggest blind spots (the bench specialist).

January 19, 2004
The Astros avoid arbitration with pitchers Wade Miller, Octavio Dotel, and Roy Oswalt by signing each to one year contracts. As it turns out, only Oswalt fulfilled a heavy role with the club as Miller missed half the season with a shoulder injury and Dotel was traded for Carlos Beltran. Oswalt s twenty wins were huge in the team s efforts to get to the playoffs.

January 21, 2004
Fan favorite Geoff Blum is traded the Devil Rays for Brandon Backe. The trade was very unpopular initially, but it turned out to be a great move for the club. Backe pitched well down the stretch and in Game 5 of the NLCS. Blum performed poorly for the Devil Rays. Mike Lamb was acquired later to fill Blum s role on the team.

February 7, 2004
The Astros sell out Opening Day in an amazing fifteen minutes. The sell out was a preview of things to come as Astros fans stepped up to the plate and supported the club as it never had before. Drayton McClane credited the fan support with keeping the club from trading many of its veteran players before the July 31st non-waiver deadline.

February 24, 2004
Nolan Ryan ends his disassociation with the Astros organization by signing a personal services contract. The contract also ended his long association with the Texas Rangers after the team signed him from the Astros in 1989. The move helped heal some of the sour feelings many fans felt when the club did not re-sign him after the 1988 season.

March 4, 2004
The Astros welcome Larry Dierker back to the broadcasting booth on a part-time basis. The former manager and broadcaster joined the FSN crew on Wednesdays during the season. Fans certainly hope that they will see more of Dierker in 2005 as he has traditionally been seen as superior to all other color commentators that the club has used since he left the booth to manage in 1997.

March 14, 2004
Baseball extends its attempts to introduce the game to foreign countries by sending the Astros to Mexico to play the Marlins in a two game exhibition series. The club split the series, but many players privately grumbled about the extra travel demands that were placed on them. Lance Berkman publicly made comments against the trip, but by all accounts, the trip was a successful public relations move for Major League Baseball.

March 25, 2004
Mike Lamb is acquired from the Yankees for minor league pitcher Juan Deleon. Lamb was brought in to serve as a backup for Morgan Ensberg, but ended up platooning with Ensberg after Ensberg got off to a slow start. Lamb set career highs in home runs and RBIs. His play helped stem the tide for a struggling offense that desperately sought power production from third base.

March 31, 2004
Rule V draftee Willy Taveras is officially acquired from the Cleveland Indians with minor league outfielder Luke Scott for fifteen game winner Jeriome Robertson. The trade was very unpopular throughout the first two months of the season because of Tim Redding s struggles. However, the Astros are very high on Taveras and Robertson performed horribly for the Indians.

April 7, 2004
Andy Pettitte injurys his elbow at the plate in his Astros debut. Pettitte would come back on a couple of occasions from the injury, but it was clear he was not the same pitcher that won 21 games for the Yankees in 2003. Late in the season, Pettitte decided to shut it down for good and get surgery.

April 16, 2004
The Astros trade Kirk Saarloos to the Athletics for reliever Chad Harville. Harville struggled for much of the season, but his presence was necessary after the club traded Octavio Dotel. Harville s future with the club is unclear, but he should get an opportunity to make the club in Spring Training.

April 30, 2004
Roger Clemens becomes the first Astro pitcher to win five games in the month of April. Clemens 5-0 record helped the club get off to a good start. Like the team, Clemens tapered off in the early summer months, but came on again in August and September to lead the team to the playoffs.

May 3, 2004
Roger Clemens is named National League pitcher of the month for April. The award was more of a formality as Clemens dominated NL hitters for the entire month. The award would be a precursor of his 7th Cy Young Award later in the year.

May 5, 2004
The Katy Rocket passes Steve Carlton to move into second on the all-time strikeout list. Roger Clemens place in history is that much sweeter for the Astros organization since Nolan Ryan became the all-time strikeout leader in an Astros uniform as well.

May 23, 2004
The Astros summer swoon becomes official as they drop out of first place for the first time since the opening series. The club would never regain their lead in the Central, but they would get back into second in September. No one counted on the Cardinals dominating the division.

June 17, 2004
The Astros transformation begins with the trade of Richard Hidalgo to the Mets for reliever David Weathers and minor league starter Jeremy Griffiths. Neither pitcher made much of an impact as it turned out, but the money the club saved allowed them to take on Beltran s contract. Hidalgo s exit was a long time coming after Jimy Williams lost faith in the embattled outfielder. Hidalgo went on to good success with the Mets. In many ways, Hidalgo s success (and rocky relationship with Williams) sealed Williams fate.

June 24, 2004
Tectonic plates shift when the Astros trade closer Octavio Dotel to the Athletics and top catching prospect John Buck to the Royals for star centerfielder Carlos Beltran. Beltran ended up being everything the Astros hoped he would be and young fireballer Brad Lidge went from being the best setup man in the game to being one of the best closers in the game. Dotel struggled initially in Oakland but came on strong late in the season. Buck immediately settled in as the Royals regular catcher. He struggled at times, but showed an impressive power stroke.

June 30, 2004
Wade Miller s shoulder finally breaks down and he is shut down for the season. Miller decides to rest instead of getting surgery. Many in the organization question the move and the club ended up cutting ties with Miller in the off-season.

July 2, 2004
The Texas Baseball Hall of Fame announces that it will be moved to Houston. Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and television announcer Bill Brown are announced as 2004 inductees. Bagwell and Biggio were no surprise, but the addition of Brown to the class was a long overdue recognition for the long-time television voice of the Astros.

July 3, 2004
Hunter Pence, the Astros top draft pick, signs his first professional contract. The UT at Arlington outfielder was among numerous position players drafted by the Astros in a design to improve that portion of their farm system. The club hopes he can develop as a centerfielder.

July 11-13, 2004
All-star weekend comes to Houston for the first time since 1986. Ironically, the club also made it to the NLCS that season as well. The weekend was a rousing success and Lance Berkman gave the hometown fans a show in the Home Run Derby. Roger Clemens got knocked out of the game in the first inning, but the weekend showcased Houston and Minute Maid park to the nation. Less than a year after Houston hosted the Superbowl, the city got another shot in the arm.

July 14, 2004
The Astros finally let Jimy Williams go. The move had been rumored for weeks, but Drayton McClane stated that he did not want to let the manager go during the all-star festivities because it would have detracted from the exhibition. Williams was also an assistant for the National League squad, so firing him would have been awkward. The club names former Astros third baseman Phil Garner interim manager.

July 18, 2004
Phil Garner wins the first of hopefully many games as the Astros manager. The club continued to scuffle for Garner until mid-August when the team finished 36-10 to win the wild card. Garner s fiery intensity has been credited in part for the turn around. An offensive surge in August and early September also didn t hurt.

July 22, 2004
Darren Oliver is acquired from the Florida Marlins for a player to be named later. Oliver got off to a good start, but injured his shoulder and ended his tenure with the team almost as soon as it began. Before the final surge of the season, Oliver was seen as a symbol of a promising season gone horribly wrong.

July 29, 2004
Former Astros first and third baseman Enos Cabell is signed on as a consultant to the organization. Cabell would later be named a special assistant to the general manager, but initially he was brought on to increase minority involvement in baseball. Now, he will assistant in the development department.

August 6, 2004
Starting shortstop Adam Everett breaks his hand is forced out for the remainder of the regular season. Everett made a brief appearance in the playoffs, but veteran Jose Vizcaino took over the bulk of the shortstop duties after the injury. Vizcaino s solid play was one of the many reasons for the Astros ability to surge into the playoffs.

August 14, 2004
The Astros season hits a low point in Montreal as the club drops to two games below .500. From that point on, the club finished 36-10 to win the NL wildcard by one game over the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs.

August 22, 2004
Roy Oswalt is ejected from a game against the Cubs for throwing at catcher Michael Barrett. Jeff Bagwell criticized Oswalt publicly for the ejection, but the tension served to motivate the Astros. Meanwhile, the Cubs appeared to become unraveled from that point on as they lost two series to the Astros. Many Cubs players were more interesting in complaining about Astros pitchers throwing at Cubs hitters than keeping their composure.

August 24, 2004
Andy Pettitte has successful surgery on his elbow and is expected to be ready for Opening day in 2005. The surgery marked the end of a very disappointing season for the left-hander. However, the surgery was necessary and probably could have been done sooner.

September 2004
Craig Biggio is nominated for the Hank Aaron Award. The Hank Aaron Award is given to the big league player that exemplifies professionalism on and off the field. Biggio is a future Hall of Famer, but was also nominated for his efforts with the Sunshine Kids. The Sunshine Kids benefits children that are suffering from cancer.

September 14, 2004
Roger Clemens moves into 11th place on the all-time win list.

September 16, 2004
The Astros officially announce that Round Rock will become the club s AAA affiliate and the Texas League will add Chorpus Christi. The Ryan family will own and operate the Chorpus Christi club at the same time as they continue to operate the Round Rock franchise. Minor league baseball has thrived in Round Rock and the organization expects the same in Chorpus Christi.

September 21, 2004
Roger Clemens is nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award. Many in Houston did not know that Clemens has been very active in the effort to get defibrillators into public schools. Anyone that pays attention to local news knows how many young athletes have suddenly collapsed from heart failure. These machines could have saved some of those young athletes, but many schools cannot afford the machines.

September 28, 2004
Houston fans came through the turnstiles in record numbers. On this date, attendance surpassed three million for only the second time in franchise history (2000). If we include the attendance from the playoffs, the club drew more than 3.2 million fans.

September 29, 2004
The Astros gain the lead in the wild card. They would not clinch until the final day of the season.

October 4, 2004
The Astros clinch a playoff berth on the final day of the season. Brandon Backe defeated the Colorado Rockies in an emergency start. Roger Clemens caught a bad case of the flu and could not go in the game. Ironically, the situation benefited the Astros by helping them set up their playoff rotation with Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens going in games one and two.

October 10, 2004
Former Astros third baseman Ken Camniti dies from a drug overdose. Camniti was a member of both the Braves and Astros during his career, but he left more of a mark in Houston with teammates Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. Camniti lived his life the same way he played the game: 100 MPH. The tragic event ended the life of a former MVP that had been spiraling out of control since 2000 when the Astros released him.

October 11, 2004
The Astros win their first playoff series in franchise history. The victory was fitting as they defeated their long-time nemesis the Braves in Atlanta. The victory exorcised a lot of demons for the Astros and helped soothe some of the sorrow from the sudden death of Ken Camniti.

October 17, 2004
Carlos Beltran ties Barry Bonds record for post-season home runs with eight. Unfortunately, he would not hit anymore home runs for the Astros, but his explosive efforts helped push the Astros into the NLCS and on the brink of the World Series.

October 18, 2004
Jeff Kent hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth to win Game 5. The victory was the high water mark for the Astros as they went back to St. Louis up three games to two. Brandon Backe was the real star of the game after going eight scoreless innings. The Astros hope his effort is representative of things to come in 2005.

October 21, 2004
The Astros season ends after Roger Clemens loses game seven in St. Louis. The final two games had many things that caused fans to scratch their heads. In particular, starting Pete Munro in game six was a controversial decision. More importantly, Dan Miceli wore out his welcome in Houston after he surrendered another game winning home run in the playoffs.

November 1, 2004
Gerry Hunsicker shocks everyone by stepping down as general manager. The greatest general manager in Astros history said he was tired, but many suspected something else. Tim Pupura was promoted from assistant general manager to general manager.

November 3, 2004
The Astros remove the interim tag from Phil Garner s title for two years and a club option for a third. Garner was given a great deal of credit for the team s turn around and the club hoped that bringing him back would entice Roger Clemens and Carlos Beltran to return.

November 5, 2004
Lance Berkman kept the disappointing off-season going by tearing his ACL in a flag football game. Berkman had successful surgery and is expected to make it back by June 1st at the latest.

November 8, 2004
The off-season takes a turn for the better when Fox Sports Net reaches a new agreement with the Astros and Rockets. According to the terms of the deal, FSN will broadcast more games than in the past and will nearly triple the payment they make to both teams.

November 9, 2004
Phil Garner fills out the rest of his coaching staff by hiring former Red Sox and Brewer star Cecil Cooper as his bench coach and Doug Mansolino as the third base coach.

November 10, 2004
Roger Clemens wins his record 7th Cy Young award and becomes one of a handful of pitchers to win Cy Young award in both leagues (Randy Johnson, Gaylord Perry, and Pedro Martinez are the others). Clemens is the second Astros pitcher to win the Cy Young award (Mike Scott in 1986).

November 13, 2004
Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Bill Brown are officially inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.

November 17, 2004
Enos Cabell and Al Pedrique are named special assistants to the general manager. Pedrique is expected to help out with the Astros Venezuelan academy while Cabell is supposed to help locally with minority involvement.

December 3, 2004
Jose Vizcaino re-signs with the Astros. Over the past three seasons, Vizcaino has served as the Astros primary backup middle infielder, but he solidified his position with his play after the injury of Adam Everett.

December 8, 2004
In an eventful day, the Astros decline arbitration on Jeff Kent, hire Ricky Bennent as assistant general manager, and re-sign reserve outfielder Orlando Palmeiro. Many Astros fans questioned all three moves. The Astros could not agree with Jeff Kent because the second baseman wanted a multi-year deal. The second baseman ended up signing a two-year contract with the Dodgers. Palmeiro was subpar, but the club decided to re-sign him for more money in 2005. Finally, the addition of Bennent was peculiar, but not unexpected. People in the press criticized the Astros for not hiring a minority, so it shouldn t surprise anyone that Bennent was hired.

December 11, 2004
Roger Clemens accepts arbitration, so he will not pitch for any other club in 2005. The future Hall of Famer told the press he was 99% retired and would not make a decision until after the new year.

December 20, 2004
The Astros do not offer arbitration to Wade Miller. All of the other arbitration eligibles (Roy Oswalt, Tim Redding, Brandon Duckworth, Lance Berkman, and Mike Lamb) are offered arbitration. Wade Miller accepted a one year deal with Boston two days later.

92-70
2nd Place, NL Central; Wild Card

Key BattersHRRBIAVG
C Brad Ausmus 531.248
1B Jeff Bagwell 2789.266
2B Jeff Kent 27107.289
3B Morgan Ensberg 1066.275
SS Adam Everett 831.273
LF Craig Biggio 2463.281
CF Carlos Beltran 2353.258
RF Lance Berkman 30106.316
IF Jose Vizcaino 333.274
IF Mike Lamb 1458.288
OF Richard Hidalgo 430.256
C Raul Chavez 023.210
Key PitchersWLERA
SP Roy Oswalt 2010 3.49
SP Roger Clemens 184 2.98
SP Tim Redding 57 5.72
SP Andy Pettitte 64 3.90
SP Wade Miller 77 3.35
CL Brad Lidge 65 1.90
RP Dan Miceli 66 3.59
RP Pete Munro 47 5.15
RP Brandon Backe 53 4.30


Pettitte: big off-season signing
(c) Houston Astros

Clemens: bigger off-season signing
(c) Houston Astros

Beltran: powered late-season, post-season surge
(c) Houston Astros

Garner: takes the reins mid-season
(c) Houston Astros


From The AstrosDaily Media Library

Video:
Apr 9, 2004 - 6th inning - Jeff Bagwell hits a grand slam, in the same inning that he had already doubled. (1:30, Brown, Deshaies - Astros)
May 8, 2004 - 1st inning - Craig Biggio gets the 2500th hit of his career. (1:35, Brown, Deshaies - Astros)
Jun 13, 2004 - 7th inning - Brad Lidge strikes out four Brewers in a single half-inning. (2:45, Brown, Deshaies - Astros)
Jun 27, 2004 - 1st inning - Carlos Beltran pays an early dividend on his midseason trade from Kansas City. (3:51 - Lewin, Grieve - Rangers)
2004 All-Star Game - 2nd inning - Lance Berkman grounds to first, then Jeff Kent lines to second. (1:40, Buck, McCarver - Fox)
2004 All-Star Game - 4th inning - Lance Berkman flies out to left, Jeff Kent singles to center, and Carlos Beltran singles to left. Kent and Beltran later score. (7:13, Buck, McCarver - Fox)
Aug 19, 2004 - 5th inning - With the bases loaded and no outs, Morgan Ensberg, Jeff Kent, and Mike Lamb pull off an around-the-horn triple play. (1:34, Brown, Deshaies - Astros)
Sep 23, 2004 - 9th inning - Lance Berkman homers in the ninth off the Giants' Dustin Hermanson to help save the season. (2:01, Brown, Deshaies - Astros)
Oct 3, 2004 - 9th inning - Brad Lidge wraps up the Wild Card berth on the last day of the regular season. (2:10, Brown, Deshaies - Astros)
2004 NLDS Game 1 - 3rd inning - Jeff Bagwell smacks an RBI double then Lance Berkman follows with a two-run homer. (2:06, O'Brien, Justice - ESPN)
2004 NLDS Game 3 - 3rd inning - Carlos Beltran continues his hot post-season hitting. (1:05, O'Brien, Justice - ESPN)
2004 NLDS Game 4 - 2nd inning - Craig Biggio takes advantage of the home field to launch a home run. (2:55, Miller, Morgan - ESPN)
2004 NLDS Game 5 - 6th inning - Carlos Beltran slams his second homer of the decisive fifth game. (1:28, Lewin, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLDS Game 5 - 7th inning - The Astros bombard Atlanta's bullpen with two outs to blow the game open. (5:43, Lewin, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLDS Game 5 - 7th inning - After a pitching change, the onslaught continues while the announcers reflect on Ken Caminiti's passing. (3:05, Lewin, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLDS Game 5 - 9th inning - For the first time in eight tries, the Astros win a postseason series. (2:38, Lewin, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 1 - 9th inning - Mike Lamb swats the fourth Houston homer of the night, though in a losing cause. (0:29, Brennaman - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 2 - 1st inning - Carlos Beltran homers off Matt Morris. (1:16, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 2 - 4th inning - Morgan Ensberg hits a solo shot. (1:47, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 2 - 7th inning - After Lance Berkman steals third, Morgan Ensberg plates him with a single through the gap. (3:40, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 3 - 1st inning - Lance Berkman singles, plating Carlos Beltran, then Jeff Kent launches a two-run shot to the left field porch. (5:25, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 3 - 8th inning - Carlos Beltran homers to center. (1:22, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 3 - 8th inning - Lance Berkman dings a solo shot to the Crawford Boxes. (1:46, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 4 - 3rd inning - Lance Berkman doubles to center, scoring Carlos Beltran and Jeff Bagwell. (1:29, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 4 - 6th inning - Jose Vizcaino doubles down the left field line. Raul Chavez hits an excuse-me single to center to score Vizcaino. (2:56, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 4 - 7th inning - Facing Julian Tavarez, Carlos Beltran lifts a shoetop pitch into the Astros' bullpen in right-center. Up next, Jeff Bagwell nearly gets beaned, walks. (5:25, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 5 - 7th inning - Carlos Beltran makes a web-gem diving catch to rob Edgar Renteria. (1:13, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 5 - 8th inning - Brandon Backe fans John Mabry. (1:11, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 5 - 9th inning - After an intentional walk to Lance Berkman, Jeff Kent breaks a scoreless tie with a walkoff three-run homer off Jason Isringhausen. (3:05, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 6 - 1st inning - Carlos Beltran steals second, moves to third on a bloop by Jeff Bagwell and comes home on a sacrifice fly by Lance Berkman. (2:48, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 6 - 3rd inning - Carlos Beltran bangs one off the wall then Jeff Bagwell doubles to tie the game. (2:47, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 6 - 4th inning - Mike Lamb hits one deep but foul then straightens it out. (1:50, Brennaman, Myers, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 6 - 9th inning - After walking Carlos Beltran, Jeff Bagwell ties the game with a single that scores Morgan Ensberg. (2:31, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)
2004 NLCS Game 7 - 1st inning - Craig Biggio starts the seventh game with a leadoff homer but it is all downhill from there. (2:07, Brennaman, Brenly, Lyons - Fox)


Trades and Transactions

Nov 2 2003 - lost Ron Villone(IF), declared as free agent. Signed by Sea-A Feb 10
Winter AAA Draft
- 2. drafted Willy Taveras(OF) from Clv-A

Dec 14 2003 - traded Billy Wagner(P) to Phi-N for Brandon Duckworth(P), Taylor Buchholz(P) and Ezequiel Astacio(P)

Dec 11 2003 - signed Andy Pettitte(P) as a free agent

Dec 14 2003 - traded Geoff Blum(IF) to TB-A for Brandon Backe(P)

Jan 12 2004 - signed Roger Clemens(P) as a free agent

Jan 16 2004 - signed Orlando Palmeiro(P) as a free agent

Jan 19 2004 - designated Colin Porter(OF) for assignment; claimed by StL-N on Jan 22.

Mar 25 2004 - traded Juan DeLeon(P) to NY-A for Mike Lamb(IF)

Mar 31 2004 - traded Jeriome Robertson(P) to Clv-A for Luke Scott(OF) and rights to Willy Taveras(OF)

Apr 16 2004 - traded Kirk Saarloos(P) to Oak-A for Chad Harville(P)

Jun 16 2004 - designated Ricky Stone(P) for assignment; claimed by SD-N on Jun 17th.

Jun 17 2004 - traded Richard Hidalgo(OF) and cash to NY-N for David Weathers(P) and Jeremy Griffiths(P)

Jun 21 2004 - signed Russ Springer(P) to a minor-league contract

Jun 24 2004 - traded Octavio Dotel(P) to Oak-A and John Buck(C) to KC-A for Carlos Beltran(OF) from KC-A

Jul 22 2004 - traded a PTBNL or cash considerations to Fla-N for Darren Oliver(P)

Aug 27 2004 - traded Adam Seuss(ml) to NY-N for Dan Wheeler(P)

Sep 7, 2004 - Released David Weathers (P)