Houston Astros: Five worst moments in franchise history

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: Will Harris #36 of the Houston Astros reacts after allowing a two-run home run to Howie Kendrick (not pictured) of the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning in Game Seven of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: Will Harris #36 of the Houston Astros reacts after allowing a two-run home run to Howie Kendrick (not pictured) of the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning in Game Seven of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 01: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals waits on the pitch from Nelson Figureoa of the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 1, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 01: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals waits on the pitch from Nelson Figureoa of the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 1, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

5. Albert Pujols Home Run – 2005 NLCS Game 5

After losing to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS, the Astros were looking for some revenge when the teams met again in 2005. They didn’t have Carlos Beltran or Jeff Kent anymore, or a healthy Jeff Bagwell, so the offense wasn’t as potent. But they did have a healthy Andy Pettitte and thus arguably the game’s best starting rotation trio.

They took a 3-1 lead in the series thanks to that stellar pitching and were in a position to close out their first pennant in Game Five in Houston. A three-run homer by Lance Berkman in the seventh gave the team a 4-2 lead, and they brought ace closer Brad Lidge in to shut the door in the ninth. Lidge had earned the save in all three of the team’s wins in the series.

After striking out the first two batters, Lidge gave up a single and a walk to bring up Pujols, who was probably the last person anyone wanted to face in that situation. On an 0-1 count, Lidge hung a slider that Pujols launched over the train tracks to give the Cardinals a 5-4 lead. I still maintain that ball is floating around in space somewhere.

Suddenly, after being just one out away, the Astros were behind and would lose the game. That home run was one of those moments you never forget, as it went from excitement and hope to simple stunned silence in an instant. There was no suspense either — everyone knew it was gone the moment Pujols hit it.

Even though the Astros came back to win Game Six and advance to the World Series, that one homer seemed to have a lasting effect on Lidge. He took two of the team’s four losses in the World Series and had an awful 2006 season. He didn’t seem to fully recover until he was traded to the Phillies.

So even though the home run seemingly only cost the Astros one game, in the end it cost them more than that. They were forced to pitch Roy Oswalt in Game Six instead of having him for Game One of the World Series, and their lights-out closer was never the same. The World Series might have gone quite differently if not for that one swing by Pujols.

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