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Astros: Inconsistent closers since Pujols home run

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 26: Relief pitcher Brad Lidge #54 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning of Game Four of the 2005 Major League Baseball World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2005 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - OCTOBER 26: Relief pitcher Brad Lidge #54 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning of Game Four of the 2005 Major League Baseball World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2005 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /
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The Astros have mostly lacked a dominant closer since that fateful night in 2005.

There are certain moments in sports that get burned into your memory. They don’t come around very often, but they stick with you forever. The common thread is they usually affect your soul; they either lift it up in joy or crush it in defeat. Astros fans are no stranger to this.

It was October 17, 2005 when one such moment occurred. The Astros were playing Game Five of the NLCS at Minute Maid Park against the Cardinals, holding a 3-1 lead in the series and looking to advance to the first World Series in franchise history. But it was not to be on this night.

With the Astros leading 4-2 in the ninth inning, shutdown closer Brad Lidge was on the mound. He struck out the first two batters he faced, but then gave up a single to David Eckstein and a walk to Jim Edmonds. That brought the league’s most feared slugger to the plate in Albert Pujols.

On an 0-1 count, Lidge hung a slider right in the middle of the plate, and Pujols got every bit of it. The ball soared over the train tracks in left field and is probably still in orbit to this day. It gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead and the win, though the Astros would win Game Six to advance to their first World Series.

Still, the home run marked a turning point for the franchise. Lidge simply was never the same after it, and the Astros seemingly haven’t had a shutdown closer like they had for most of the decade prior to it. It was one moment that still affects the team to this day.

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