Houston Astros: Five most devastating series in Astros history

Aug 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Fans hold signs in the Keuchels Korner section during the game between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Fans hold signs in the Keuchels Korner section during the game between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Closest Sweep in History – 2005 World Series

Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell had worked so hard together. For so many years together. Just to play on this stage. While Bagwell was limited to designated hitter/pinch hitter duties, the duo finally made it. Biggio actually holds the record for most regular season games played before finally getting to a World Series. And the team had never been to one. The state of Texas had never seen a World Series game before!

The journey there was incredible, as this was the 2005 team to become only the second team in Major League history (along side the 1914 Boston Braves) to make it to the playoffs after being under .500 at any point in the regular season. They started 15-30. Went 74-43 the rest of the way.

This team was the closest thing to the baseball version of “Clutch City” we’ve ever seen. They lost Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran in free agency. Bagwell was injured for a large portion of the season, returning in September but only able to play on the offensive side of things. They faced all kinds of adversity but what makes them so much like the “Clutch City” Houston Rockets of a decade before was the papers burying them. Literally.

Here is the Astros headline from June 1st, 2005. A gravestone declaring the Astros season is over. Reminiscent of the “Choke City” headlines from 1994 when the Rockets blew 20 point leads at home to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semi-finals.

This team was clutch in the playoffs, rallying from down 6-1 in the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves in game four of the NLDS capping it off in the 18th inning with a Chris Burke walk-off home run. Milo Hamilton with that incredible call.

"It’s gone! It’s gone! It’s gone! Chris Burke!"

The team overcame choking in game five of the NLCS with that terrible two out, nobody on rally the Cardinals put on down 4-2 in the ninth inning only to bounce back and have Roy Oswalt destroy the Cardinals in game six to send us to our first World Series and also to get Roy Oswalt a tractor that was promised to him by owner Drayton McClane if Oswalt won the game.

The 2005 Astros weren’t nearly as talented as the previous year’s team who also made a magical mad dash towards the finish line with a 36-10 record in their final 46 games to get to the playoffs. Yet the 2005 Astros made the playoffs and eventually the World Series anyhow

And this World Series was so tough because it was so close. So close in fact, that it’s tied for the smallest margin of victory in a sweep in World Series history (the other being the 1950 World Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.)

The Astros lost four games by six runs total. Every game was within arms reach.

It’s hard to even decide which game was most painful of the World Series. Was it game two where the Astros held a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning and then with the bases loaded Chad Qualls gave up a grand slam on his first pitch of the game to Paul Konerko putting the Astros down 6-4? Only then to have the Astros rally in the top of the ninth inning, scoring two runs on a single by Jose Vizcaino and a close play at the plate to tie the game at six? Only to have Scott Podsednick, who had hit zero home runs in the regular season and only one in this postseason, hit a walk off home run off Brad Lidge in Lidge’s first appearance back since the Albert Pujols debacle?

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Or was it game three? Where with Roy Oswalt on the mound and a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning, the wheels come completely off as the White Sox score five runs in the inning off our ace, only for the Astros to rally in the bottom of the eighth to tie it at five? Only to then play in the longest World Series game time wise and tied for the longest World Series game innings wise and see our current color commentator Geoff Blum hit a two run bomb off Ezequiel Astacio to bury the Astros in a 3-0 series hole?

Oh and let’s not forget one of the weirder World Series story lines of being forced to open our retractable roof for some bizarre reason. I still don’t get that. I don’t understand. Was Bud Selig concerned that the fans watching at home would be upset at the lack of aerial shots showing the field? One of the weirdest, most unnecessary sources of contention in baseball history.

The Astros would put up a fight with the tenacious Brandon Backe on the mound in game four, but Freddy Garcia shut the Astros down completely and, not surprisingly, the suddenly beleaguered Brad Lidge lets in the only run of the game on a Jermaine Dye single up the middle in the top of the eighth. Watching Chicago White Sox fans celebrating in our park after that was just brutal.

This one hurts the most because even though it didn’t go six or seven games, it was the World Series. And we had two games in the palm of our hands that slipped away and two games that we were in striking distance of taking back.

Next: Ten Best Athletes to Represent Houston

Hopefully this year will make all the loyalty worth it. The 55 years of lost leads and failed rallies finally expunged from our painful psyche as we celebrate the first World Series trophy being hoisted by a Texas team. Hopefully the 2017 season ends differently than the rest.