We run down some of the more noteworthy All-Stars in Houston Astros history.
In recent seasons, Houston fans have had plenty of reason to enjoy the Midsummer Classic as the Astros have had six players named to each of the past three All-Star teams. Unfortunately that won’t happen this year as MLB has officially canceled the 2020 All-Star game.
In its absence, and on this July 4th that is soul-crushingly without baseball, it’s a good time to look back at some of the most notable Astros All-Stars and some of their most memorable performances. There’s plenty to choose from over the course of the franchise’s history, including one or two that we might want to forget.
Best Offensive Performances
The easy answer is Alex Bregman’s MVP performance in 2018. He gave the AL the lead with a go-ahead homer in the top of the 10th inning, and teammate George Springer followed with a solo blast of his own. Future Astro Michael Brantley tacked on another run with a sac fly later in the inning. How’s that for teamwork?
Interestingly, only four Astros players have homered in the All-Star game, so Bregman and Springer doubled the team’s total that year. The other two to do it were Craig Biggio in 1995 and Cesar Cedeno in 1976.
Cedeno was the only one of the four to drive in more than one run, as he hit a two-run shot in the eighth inning. The only other Astros player to drive in multiple runs in a single All-Star game was Lance Berkman in 2002, when he hit a two-run single in the seventh and also stole a base.
That stolen base made Berkman one of only three Houston players to swipe a bag in the All-Star game. The other two might not be your first guesses. Jose Cruz did it first in 1985, and Miguel Tejada did it in 2008.
The only Astros players to get multiple hits in a single game are Springer (2018), Tejada (2008) and Jeff Bagwell (1994). Those to reach base multiple times include Cruz (1985) and Glenn Davis (1989) in addition to the previous three.
Best Pitching Performances
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The Astros have had five pitchers start an All-Star game — J.R. Richard in 1980, Mike Scott in 1987, Roger Clemens in 2004, Dallas Keuchel in 2015 and Justin Verlander in 2019. It’s somewhat surprising that Roy Oswalt and Nolan Ryan never did, but life isn’t always fair.
Richard tossed two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and two walks and striking out three. Scott also went two scoreless frames, while Verlander fanned two hitters in his one scoreless inning. Keuchel allowed just an unearned run in two innings, and Clemens….well, we’ll get to that later.
Among relief appearances, there are some that stand out. Brad Lidge struck out the side in his one inning of work in 2005, setting down Melvin Mora, Mike Sweeney and Garret Anderson on just 11 pitches. Nolan Ryan threw three scoreless innings in 1985, making him the only Astros pitcher to complete three innings in an All-Star game.
Aside from Richard and Scott, other Astros to throw two scoreless innings in a game include Hal Woodeshick (1963), Mike Cuellar (1967), Don Wilson (1971) and Bob Knepper (1981). Also of note, Billy Wagner faced two batters in the 1999 All-Star game and struck out both.
Remember when I said we’d get to Clemens later? His start in 2004 would be generously described as a disaster. He pitched one inning, allowing six runs on five hits, though only three of those runs were earned. But he allowed a two-run homer to Manny Ramirez and a three-run shot to Alfonso Soriano.
Doug Jones allowed three runs in one inning in 1992, and Doug Drabek coughed up three runs (one earned) in just 0.2 innings in 1994. Turk Farrell also gave up three runs in an inning in 1962. Astros who allowed two earned runs in an outing include John Hudek (1994), Oswalt (2005) and Charlie Morton (2018).
At the plate, Springer was 0-for-3 with a couple of strikeouts in 2017. Jose Altuve was 0-for-3 in 2016, and Biggio struck out three times in 1998. He also went 0-for-3 in 1996. Ray Knight went 0-for-3 in 1982.
Nonetheless, these players were all deserving of their All-Star status. They might not have shined every time they had a chance in the Midsummer Classic, but that’s the way it goes.