Regular Season Comes to An End With Houston Victories in Seattle

September 29: Houston 6, Seattle 3

The Mariners knew going in that the Royals had already won in Anaheim and thereby snuffed out Seattle’s meager remaining chances at ending the season in a tie for first with KC. So for the first time all season, the Mariners weren’t playing for anything besides pride.

Lance Berkman bruised that pride a bit by drilling a three-run dinger in the top of the first, and the Astros held a lead all game.

                  R H BB
HOU 310 000 020 - 6 9  5
SEA 000 001 200 - 3 5  4
HR: L. Berkman (35), A. Davis (19), K. Griffey (28)

starters       IP  R ER HR BB SO
J.R. Richard  7.0  3  3  2  3  8  
F. Garcia     7.0  4  4  1  4  5 

HOU 70-91, SEA 82-79

ensbergOctober 1: Houston 6, Seattle 3

Something like 16 (real) months after I started this crazy season, here was game #1,134 of 1,134. That works out to something like 2.4 games per day for those 16 months. Crazy. I think the longest break I ever took was 10 days without a game. I decided I was going to take around a six-week break after playing the All-Star games, but started getting itchy dice fingers in just over a week.

Anyway, the grand finale wasn’t all that grand. Nelson Cruz concluded his ridiculous first month in the league with his 10th homer. (Cruz was on a pace that works out to 53 homers in a full season.) But Lance Berkman went dong again, a solo shot leading off the top of the fourth, and later in the same inning, Morgan Ensberg hit a bases-loaded tater that shored up the game for the ‘Stros.

Stay tuned for game one of the Kansas City vs. Boston championship series, coming soon…

                  R  H BB
HOU 000 501 000 - 6  9  5
SEA 003 000 000 - 3 10  5

HR: L. Berkman (36), M. Ensberg (12), N. Cruz (10)

starters       IP  R ER HR BB SO
M. Cuellar    6.1  3  3  1  2  5  
F. Hernandez  3.1  5  5  2  2  6 

HOU 71-91, SEA 82-80

 

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Houston & Toronto Split 4 Games, Launch 19 Homers

September 25: Houston 10, Toronto 2

Mike Cuellar made the only strong start of the series for either team and went the distance. The Astros offense went silly, Jim Wynn the silliest of all with a walk, double, and two homers.

                   R  H BB
HOU 030 030 202 - 10 17  6
TOR 110 000 000 -  2  7  6
HR: L. Berkman (34), J. Wynn-2 (12),
M. Ensberg (9), E. Encarnacion (11)

starters     IP  R ER HR BB SO
M. Cuellar  9.0  2  2  1  6  7  
S. Marcum   4.1  6  6  2  3  6 

HOU 68-89, TOR 70-86

September 26: Toronto 5, Houston 3

The teams drilled two homers each, but this was the only game in which neither team scored double digits. Josh Donaldson’s first inning homer was a three-run job, whereas both Houston dingers were solo.

                  R H BB
HOU 200 001 000 - 3 6  2
TOR 300 100 10x - 5 6  4
HR: M. Alou (31), C. Biggio (13),
J. Donaldson (2), L. Moseby (12)

starters      IP  R ER HR BB SO
N. Ryan      6.1  5  5  2  4  7  
R. Halladay  7.0  3  3  2  2  3 

HOU 68-90, TOR 71-86

mcgriffSeptember 27: Toronto 14, Houston 4

With Roy Oswalt’s season over, Wade Miller made a start for Houston but soon wished he hadn’t. The bottom of the first was at least reasonable, with just a two-run jack by Fred McGriff. But the second inning went bonkers with seven Jays reaching safely against Miller, and Shawn Green nailing a three-run homer. Green later swatted a second homer in the game, his 28th of the season. That puts Green in the league’s top 10 home run hitters despite only amassing 477 plate appearances (compared to the 492 he would need to be a “qualified” hitter).

                   R  H BB
HOU 000 010 210 -  4 12  1
TOR 281 201 00x - 14 14  6
HR: C. Correa (5), M. Ensberg (10),
F. McGriff (23), S. Green-2 (28)

starters    IP  R ER HR BB SO
W. Miller  1.2  9  9  2  2  2  
J. Key     6.2  3  3  1  1  6 

HOU 68-91, TOR 72-86

September 28: Houston 13, Toronto 3

Doyle Alexander’s weird season came to a close with a disaster start, a fitting end to his miserable second half. (His splendid first half had ended with a start in front of his home fans in the third All-Star Game.) Alexander and the following Jays hurlers could not get Houston’s first two batsmen Jeff Bagwell and Jose Cruz out. Bagwell drew a walk, swatted two singles, and knocked a homer, while Cruz collected two singles, a double and a dong. Morgan Ensberg hit his third homer of the series.

Fred McGriff raised his wOBA to .381 with a walk, single, double, and homer. He owns the 11th best wOBA in the league and third best in the Expansion Division.

                   R  H BB
HOU 210 630 000 - 13 16  5
TOR 000 101 100 -  3  9  5
HR: J. Bagwell (32), J. Cruz (4), M. Ensberg (11),
F. McGriff (24), J. Donaldson (3)

starters       IP  R ER HR BB SO
M. Scott      6.2  3  3  2  5  4  
D. Alexander  3.2  9  8  3  3  1 

HOU 69-91, TOR 72-87

Kansas City Loses A Little Ground In Houston

September 22: Houston 7, Kansas City 5

Moises Alou and Cesar Cedeno took Royals starter Danny Jackson to the seats during Jackson’s 5.1 innings. Then in the bottom of the seventh, Alcides Escobar and Darrell Porter both made errors to help Houston build a 6-0 lead.

In his final start of the year, Roy Oswalt nailed down seven shutout innings before KC finally got to him in the eighth with a George Brett grand slam. The Royals tacked on another run in the ninth, but the comeback fell short.

Alou and Johnny Edwards both collected three hits for the home team. Alou’s homer was his 30th, making Houston the only team to currently have three players with 30+ homers (Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman being the other Astros).

                  R  H BB
KC  000 000 041 - 5  8  2
HOU 020 001 31x - 7 11  2
HR: G. Brett (8), M. Alou (30), C. Cedeno (15)

starters     IP  R ER HR BB SO
D. Jackson  5.1  3  3  2  2  3  
R. Oswalt   7.2  4  4  1  2  4 

KC 81-73, HOU 66-88

mike scottSeptember 23: Houston 7, Kansas City 1

The Astros drilled Mark Gubicza early and often. Jose Cruz and Jeff Bagwell both homered off Gubicza.

Mike Scott was wicked in a complete game, walking none and striking out a season-high nine.

                  R  H BB
KC  100 000 000 - 1  4  0
HOU 002 400 01x - 7 10  4

HR: J. Cruz (3), J. Bagwell (31), M. Ensberg (8)

starters      IP  R ER HR BB SO
M. Gubicza   3.1  6  6  2  4  3  
M. Scott     9.0  1  1  0  0  9 

KC 81-74, HOU 67-88

September 24: Kansas City 11, Houston 5

The often meek Royals offense roared to life to salvage the finale. Willie Aikens, Danny Tartabull, and John Mayberry all homered. Tartabull and Mayberry are tied for the team lead at 24.

Both starters lasted only 3.1 innings, but the Royals bullpen stood firm while the Houston relief corps yielded six runs.

Kansas City now stands essentially tied for first with Seattle. KC has played two more games than the Mariners. At 82-74, KC’s winning percentage is .5256 compared to 81-73 Seattle’s .5260. The Mariners play three games against Texas before a monumental showdown with the Royals coming up on September 25–27.

                   R  H BB
KC  001 423 100 - 11 13  6
HOU 001 301 000 -  5 11  1
HR: J. Mayberry (24), W. Aikens (5), D. Tartabull (24),
C. Biggio (12), J. Edwards (4)

starters       IP  R ER HR BB SO
B. Black      3.1  4  3  1  1  2  
J.R. Richard  3.1  5  5  1  3  1 

KC 82-74, HOU 67-89

Houston Takes Series From Dispirited Chicago

ashbySeptember 18: Houston 13, Chicago 1

Chicago’s surge from last in late June to first in early August has been one of the top stories of the season. But by late August, the White Sox cooled off just as the Red Sox took off again, and Chicago was eliminated before this series opener in Houston. They looked like a team that knew they weren’t playing for anything anymore.

Chris Sale’s rough second half hit another low as the Astros pounded him for three home runs in the first inning and he only recorded one out. Sale has given up 10 ya-yas in his last 27 innings.

Houston drilled 20 hits, and six ‘Stros homered. Bob Watson and Moises Alou both had three hits with a dong, and the seven, eight, and nine hitters Art Howe, Dickie Thon, and Alan Ashby combined for nine hits and two dongs. J.R. Richard pitched a complete game.

                   R  H BB
CHI 000 100 000 -  1  4  6
HOU 401 001 43x - 13 20  2
HR: B. Watson (15), J. Altuve (1), M. Alou (29),
C. Cedeno (14), A. Howe (4), D. Thon (7)

starters       IP  R ER HR BB SO
C. Sale       0.1  4  4  3  0  0  
J.R. Richard  9.0  1  1  0  6  5 

CHI 79-72, HOU 64-87

September 19: Houston 5, Chicago 3

This was also a baseball game.

                  R  H BB
CHI 000 012 000 - 3  8  4
HOU 210 010 10x - 5 10  3

HR: C. Lemon (11), J. Bagwell (30)

starters      IP  R ER HR BB SO
E. Cicotte   6.1  5  5  1  3  3  
M. Cuellar   5.2  3  3  1  1  4 

CHI 79-73, HOU 65-87

September 20: Chicago 5, Houston 1

Nolan Ryan handed out walks like candy, and four of Chicago’s five run scorers reached on a free pass. Chicago’s Ed Walsh was stingy in a complete game. Walsh has the third highest runs saved above average in the league.

                  R H BB
CHI 001 020 101 - 5 6  8
HOU 100 000 000 - 1 6  1
HR: none

starters    IP  R ER HR BB SO
E. Walsh   9.0  1  1  0  1  4  
N. Ryan    8.0  5  5  0  8  4 

CHI 80-73, HOU 65-88

Houston Beats Cleveland in Battle of Last Placers

josecruz
Cruz

September 15: Houston 5, Cleveland 3

 

Jim Thome mashed a tater in the first inning and Cleveland starter Stan Coveleski was looking good with a 3-2 lead going into the seventh. But Jose Cruz started the inning with a triple, and Coveleski handed out walks to Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman to load the bases with no outs. After whiffing Carlos Correa, Coveleski saw his lead vanish on a bases-loaded walk to Craig Biggio. Out came Coveleski and in came Rafael Betancourt, who allowed two inherited runners to score.

Nolan Ryan was excellent for 8.2 innings except against Thome, who walked twice and doubled in addition to his dinger. With dangerous lefties Joe Jackson and Jim Thome coming up with one on and two outs, Astros skipper Bill Virdon pulled Ryan in favor of lefty Billy Wagner. Wagner walked Jackson, bringing Thome to the plate representing the go-ahead run, but there was no joy in Cleveville. The mighty Thome did strike out.

                  R  H BB
HOU 011 000 300 - 5 11  6
CLE 200 001 000 - 3  6  7
HR: J. Thome (32)

starters       IP  R ER HR BB SO
N. Ryan       8.2  3  3  1  6  9  
S. Coveleski  6.1  5  5  0  4  8 

HOU 62-86, CLE 70-78

September 16: Houston 5, Cleveland 4 (10 innings)

The Naps built up a 4-0 lead on homers by Manny Ramirez and Al Rosen, but the ‘Stros stormed back late to tie it up and send it to extras. In the top of the 10th, Cruz led off with a single, and walks from Moises Alou and Lance Berkman pushed him to third. A Carlos Correa grounder drove Cruz home for the winning run.

                    R  H BB
HOU 000 002 020 1 - 5 10  4
CLE 003 100 000 0 - 4 11  4
HR: J. Bagwell (29), M. Ramirez (18), A. Rosen (14)

starters     IP  R ER HR BB SO
R. Oswalt   7.0  4  4  2  3  5  
C. Kluber   7.1  4  4  1  1  4 

HOU 63-86, CLE 70-79

September 17: Cleveland 5, Houston 3

Cleveland salvaged the finale in part by by slugging two doubles and a home run against Mike Scott in the second inning. On the mound, Vean Gregg laid down six shutout innings before wavering the in the seventh. Johnny Allen and Bob Feller closed out the win for Cleveland with no trouble.

                  R  H BB
HOU 000 000 300 - 3  7  5
CLE 030 020 00x - 5 11  4
HR: H. Trosky (2)

starters    IP  R ER HR BB SO
M. Scott   4.1  5  5  1  3  2  
V. Gregg   6.2  3  3  0  5  2 

HOU 63-87, CLE 71-79

 

Houston is First Team Officially Eliminated From Pennant Race Despite Taking Series Vs. Anaheim

September 12: Houston 7, Anaheim 6

Five dingers went a’flyin’ in the contest, including shots by Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio, the two most productive bats in the Expansion Division this season.

                  R  H BB
ANA 000 202 020 - 6  6  4
HOU 002 104 00x - 7 11  4

HR: M. Trout (13), C. Davis (2), J. Edwards (3)
L. Berkman (33), C. Biggio (11)

starters         IP  R ER HR BB SO
A. Messersmith  5.0  7  7  3  5  5  
M. Scott        7.0  4  4  2  2  8 

ANA 63-84, HOU 60-85

September 13: Anaheim 10, Houston 4

Tim Salmon is having a brutal year for Anaheim (.286 wOBA) but had a day to remember in this one with two walks, a dinger, and three runs scored. Chili Davis added three singles, and the Angels clogged up the bases all game on their way to victory.

The loss mathematically eliminated the Astros from winning the Expansion Division.

                   R  H BB
ANA 200 130 202 - 10 11  8
HOU 000 020 101 -  4  5  5
HR: T. Salmon (13), C. Cedeno (13)

starters       IP  R ER HR BB SO
D. Chance     9.0  4  4  1  5  5  
J.R. Richard  4.0  6  4  0  4  2 

ANA 64-84, HOU 60-86

cuellarSeptember 14: Houston 3, Anaheim 0

Houston’s Mike Cuellar made his 30th and finest appearance of the season and dished up a shutout to the Angels. Brian Downing slapped three singles against Cuellar, but the rest of the Angels lineup mustered just one hit against him.

John Lackey was good in a spot start for Anaheim but got tagged by Moises Alou for a three-run homer in the first inning that ended up being the extent of scoring in the game.

                  R H BB
ANA 000 000 000 - 0 4  3
HOU 300 000 00x - 3 6  0
HR: M. Alou (28)

starters     IP  R ER HR BB SO
J. Lackey   8.0  3  3  1  0  2  
M. Cuellar  9.0  0  0  0  0  0 

ANA 64-85, HOU 61-86

Texas Completes Season-Long Domination of Houston With Sweep

September 9: Texas 5, Houston 3

The dingers were a-flyin’ in the opening game. Texas drilled four of them, including two from A-Rod that pulled him back into a tie for the league lead with Lou Gehrig.

                  R H BB
TEX 102 101 000 - 5 6  1
HOU 000 201 000 - 3 5  2

HR: J. Franco (13), F. Howard (15), A. Rodriguez-2 (36),
J. Bagwell (28), C. Correa (4)

starters      IP  R ER HR BB SO
Y. Darvish   7.0  3  3  2  2  5  
M. Cuellar   3.0  4  4  3  0  2 

TEX 66-76, HOU 59-83

September 10: Texas 5, Houston 1

The ball mostly stayed in the yard in this one, but it still resulted in a win for the visiting Rangers. They got a lot of their offense from their eight and nine hitters Toby Harrah (3-for-4 with a double) and Marlon Byrd (2-for-4 with the game’s only dinger).

Gaylord Perry followed up his first shutout of the year with a complete game, one-run allowed, zero walks, nine strikeout gem.

                  R H BB
TEX 000 400 100 - 5 9  5
HOU 000 100 000 - 1 7  0

HR: M. Byrd (2)

starters     IP  R ER HR BB SO
G. Perry    9.0  1  1  0  0  9  
N. Ryan     6.0  5  5  0  4  5 

TEX 67-76, HOU 59-84

hamilton

September 11: Texas 4, Houston 3 (14 innings)

The two Texan teams finished off their season series with a marathon doozy that ended in the usual Rangers victory. The Astros will be happy not to see the Rangers again this season–the Rangers were 18-5 in their games together.

All of Houston’s runs came on a three-run blast from Lance Berkman that put the ‘Stros up 3-2. Adrian Beltre tied it up with a dong in the seventh, after which the teams played seven scoreless innings. Rangers relievers Alexi Ogando, Francisco Cordero, Neftali Feliz, and Jeff Zimmerman combined for nine shutout innings out of the Texas ‘pen.

The Houston relievers were sharp too, but Josh Hamilton led off the top of the 14th with a tater off Larry Anderson. Hamilton is quietly putting together a nice season and has a .354 wOBA.

The Astros have fallen apart, losing 15 of their last 17, and are close to becoming the first team officially eliminated from the pennant chase.

The Rangers are still on the fringes of the chase. They are 9.5 games out of first, but they do have seven games remaining against first place Seattle. Unfortunately for Texas, Nolan Ryan and Yu Darvish don’t have a lot of innings left in the tank for the team’s remaining 18 games.

                         R  H BB
TEX 010 100 100 000 01 - 4 10  2
HOU 000 003 000 000 00 - 3  9  5
HR: J. Hamilton (20), A. Beltre (19),
L. Berkman (32)

starters     IP  R ER HR BB SO
N. Ryan     5.0  3  2  1  4  5  
R. Oswalt   6.2  3  2  1  1  2 

TEX 68-76, HOU 59-85