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Astros' defining moments
10/03/2004 10:24 PM ET
Offseason moment: Jan. 12, 2004
Roger Clemens, with the blessing of his wife, Debbie, and four sons, signed a one-year contract to pitch for the Houston Astros. The Rocket also signed a 10-year personal services contract with the Astros that will go into effect upon his retirement from pitching. The news of Rocket's signing sends a shockwave through the city of Houston, and the phone system at Minute Maid Park temporarily shut down two days later because of the influx of fan requests to buy season tickets.

HOUSTON ASTROS
NL Wild Card Champions

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Second-half highlights
First-half highlights
• The Astros' road to the playoffs: 56K | 350K
• The Astros clinch the NL Wild Card: 56K | 350K

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In-season moment: June 24, 2004
In a three-team blockbuster trade, the Astros acquired switch-hitting center fielder Carlos Beltran from the Kansas City Royals. The deal sent Houston closer Octavio Dotel to Oakland and catching prospect John Buck to Kansas City. Beltran hit his 30th homer on Aug. 23 to become the 45th player in Major League history to have 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a single season.

Game: Aug. 15, 2004, at Montreal
On the brink of a three-game sweep to the Expos, the Astros staged a ninth-inning comeback to win, 5-4. They won 16 of their next 19 games, including a 12-game winning streak. They were 36-10 from Aug. 15 through the end of the season and won a franchise-record 18 home games in a row to finish the campaign.

MVP: Clemens
Without Clemens, the Astros would not have been contenders this year. He not only was one of two starters to remain healthy all year and log more than 200 innings, but he also was able to beat opponents when the Astros gave him little run support. Clemens was at his best in the final months of the season when the Astros went from the brink of elimination to Wild Card winners. He also served as a valuable tutor for the younger pitchers, and detected a small hitch in Roy Oswalt's delivery that helped him dominate in the second half.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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