LCS REMATCH:The Astros continue the 2005 NLCS with Game 2 against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight at Busch Stadium...RHP Roy Oswalt (1-0, 3.68 in NLDS) starts for Houston against Redbirds LHP Mark Mulder (1- 0, 1.35 in NLDS)...first pitch is scheduled for 7:28 PM Central tonight...Oswalt is 2-0 with a 4.05 ERA (12ER/26.2IP) in five career postseason appearances, including four starts...he was the winning pitcher in Houston's NLDS Game 3 win over Atlanta...the Astros are 3-7 all-time in Game 2's and will attempt to snap a streak of five consecutive losses inGame 2 contests.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT:St. Louis took a 1-0 series advantage over the Astros with a 5-3 win last night...LHP Andy Pettitte (6,8,5,5,2,2) started and suffered the loss, snapping his five-game winning streak in LCS games...Chris Burke hit a two-run home run in the seventh, the third pinch-hit home run in Houston franchise postseason history (Daryle Ward, 2001 NLDS Game 3; Jason Lane, 2004 NLDS Game 1)...Burke has now homered in consecutive postseason at-bats, the third Astros player to accomplish the feat (Carlos Beltran, 2004 NLDS Game 5 at ATL; Ken Caminiti, last AB in 1999 NLDS Game 1 and his first AB in Game 2, both at ATL).
REDBIRDS:The Astros are 3-5 vs. St. Louis all-time in the postseason, including a 3-0 mark in Houston and an 0-5 record at Busch Stadium...the Cardinals defeated the Astros in the 2004 NLCS in seven games, with the home team winning all seven games in the series...the Astros won their last two games vs. St. Louis in 2005, a two-game sweep from 9/27-28...the 2004 NLCS is the only previous postseason meeting between the two clubs...Houston was 5-11 vs. St. Louis during the 2005 regular season, including a 3-5 mark at Minute Maid Park and a 2-6 record at Busch Stadium.
LCS:The Houston Astros are making their fourth appearance in the National League Championship Series and their second consecutive...the three previous LCS appearances for the club were in 1980 (lost to Philadelphia in five games), 1986 (lost to the New York Mets in six games), and 2004 (lost to STL in seven games)...Houston is 6-12 all-time in NLCS games, including a 5-4 record at home and a 1-8 mark on the road and losses in the club's last six consecutive LCS road games.
GAME TIMES ANNOUNCED:The following are the game times for the 2005 NLCS, with first pitch times in parenthesees: Game 2 at STL--7:00 (7:28); Game 3 at HOU--3:00 (3:30); Game 4 at HOU--3:00 (3:45); Game 5 at HOU--7:00 PM (7:28); Game 6 at STL--3:00 (3:19); Game 7 at STL--7:00 (7:28)...NOTE: NLCS Game 4 will move to 6:30 p.m. if the ALCS is over, and NLCS Game 6 will move to 7:00 p.m. if the ALCS is over by Oct. 18.
USUAL SUSPECTS:The Astros are making their sixth playoff appearance in the last nine seasons, the second-most of any National League club and the third-most in MLB in the last nine years from 1997-2005...the leader is the Atlanta Braves, whose 14 consecutive division crowns include each of the last nine seasons...among American League clubs, only the New York Yankees (all nine seasons from 1997-2005) have made the playoffs more times starting with the 1997 season...St. Louis and Boston are the only other franchises to make the postseason as many as five times since 1997 (five each)...the Astros are 17-30 all-time in the postseason, including an 11-11 record at home and a 6-19 record on the road...the Astros have won five consecutive home playoff games and are 6-1 in their last seven postseason games at Minute Maid Park...Houston has earned the NL Wild Card berth in each of the last two seasons.
BULL MARKET:The Astros bullpen has posted a 1.99 ERA (5ER/22.2IP) during the 2005 postseason, including scoreless innings by Russ Springer and Ezequiel Astacio in NLCS Game 1...Houston relievers pitched 13.2 innings in Sunday's Game 4 win over Atlanta, allowing only one run, along with eight hits, eight walks, and 14 strikeouts...RHP Brad Lidge pitched 2.0 scoreless innings to extend his consecutive scoreless streak in the playoffs to 13.2 innings...RHP Dan Wheeler also pitched 3.0 scoreless innings (3,1,0,0,3,4) and has allowed only one earned run in 12.1 career postseason innings pitched (0.73 ERA)...Lidge's 0.55 career playoff ERA and Wheeler's 0.73 rank 1-2 among active relievers, with New York's Mariano Rivera ranking third (0.81).
DIVISION SERIES:Houston won Games 1 (10-5), 3 (7-3), and 4 (7-6) to eliminate Atlanta in the NLDS in four games (ATL won Game 2, 7-1)...3B Morgan Ensberg led Houston with seven RBI in the series, while Lance Berkman homered and drove in five runs...Craig Biggio hit .316 (6x19) with four doubles and six runs scored...Willy Taveras hit .357 (5x14) in the series win...Houston hit .265 as a team in the NLDS while posting a 4.30 ERA (21ER/44IP).
ONE FOR THE AGES:The Astros advanced to the 2005 NLCS after defeating the Atlanta Braves in four games, including Sunday's 7-6, 18-inning victory at Minute Maid Park...the win marked the second postseason series victory in Houston franchise history...it was also the biggest postseason comeback win in club history, as Houston trailed 6-1 entering the eighth inning...Chris Burke's solo home run in the bottom of the 18th against Braves RHP Joey Devine ended the game and the series, marking the sixth time in Major League history that a player ended a series with a walk-off home run, and the first by a rookie...Lance Berkman's grand slam (the first in the playoffs in club history) in the eighth cut the Atlanta lead to 6-5, while Brad Ausmus' solo homer in the ninth tied the score at 6-6... RHP Roger Clemens (3,1,0,0,0,4) earned the win in his first relief appearance since 7/18/84 (for BOS at OAK) and the second relief outing of his career...Clemens made 690 combined regular season and postseason starts in between his two career relief outings, and Sunday also marked the first game finished for Clemens in his career...he also ranks second with the most regular season wins (341) before recording a playoff win in relief, eclipsed only by Walter Johnson (377, Elias Sports Bureau)...the game was the longest in playoff history in terms of innings (18) and time (5:50)...the 18 innings surpassed the 16 played by the Astros and Mets in 1986 NLCS Game 6.