PrintPrint © 2004 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

Astros short hops
10/06/2004 7:55 PM ET
ATLANTA -- Yes, the Houston Astros can score runs in the postseason. Yes, Roger Clemens can win a Game 1. Yes, the Atlanta Braves are beatable.

Any more questions?

While Clemens gutted through seven so-so innings, the Astros offense led the way to a 9-3 win in Game 1 of the Division Series. Houston set a franchise postseason record with nine runs scored and four home runs, and tied the club record with 13 hits.

So much for their playoff jinx. In 29 previous postseason games, Houston had never scored more than seven runs. They scored three or fewer runs in 22 of those games and one or zero runs in 16 of them.

The club's best batting average in a series was .233, and the Astros had never advanced past the first round. They took Step 1 in that direction on Wednesday.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 1 of the NLDS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 2.02 With all that offense, the pitchers could have easily slipped
BA .333 A record 13 hits will do that
BA w/ RISP .429 Only five left on base, compared to Atlanta's 12
Runs 9 Doesn't get better than a franchise postseason record
Fldg % .975 Berkman charged with a questionable error in the first inning

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Carlos Beltran 1.000 BA (3-for-3), 1 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, SB The only way to slow him down was to knock him out
Jason Lane 1-for-1, HR Homered in his first postseason at-bat

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Jose Vizcaino 0-for-4 Only Astros starter without a hit

Behind the numbers
The Astros pounced on Atlanta starter Jaret Wright in the third inning by staying patient at the plate. Of the seven hitters in the inning, only Jeff Kent fell behind in the count on the first pitch. Brad Ausmus homered on a first pitch, Beltran singled on 1-0, Jeff Bagwell doubled in a run on 2-0 and Lance Berkman capped a four-run rally with a home run on 2-0.

Frozen moment
Bases loaded, two outs and the Braves trying to stage a comeback against Clemens after the Astros' big inning. Clemens overmatched rookie Charles Thomas, getting him to swing at two pitches off the outside of the plate, then got a called strike three on the corner. As he walked off the field, Clemens threw his right hand, palm up, into the air.

Astros in Game 1
Year Round Opponent Game 1 result Series result
1980 NLCS at PHI L, 3-1 Loss
1981 NLDS* at LA W, 1-0 Loss
1986 NLCS vs. NYM W, 1-0 Loss
1997 NLDS at ATL L, 2-1 Loss
1998 NLDS vs. SD L, 2-1 Loss
1999 NLDS at ATL L, 6-1 Loss
2001 NLDS at ATL L, 7-4 Loss
2004 NLDS at ATL W, 9-3 ?
*-Because of a midseason player strike that forced a shutdown for almost two months, a split-season format and a new tier of playoffs were created after play resumed. Teams played a five-game series.
Slick move
Clemens had labored through five innings on 86 pitches, was in line for his first-ever Game 1 win and was due to bat third in the top of the sixth. Time to get him out, right? Nope. Manager Phil Garner stuck with The Rocket and it worked. Clemens allowed a run in the sixth but escaped further damage on 11 pitches. Then he breezed through a 10-pitch seventh, his first 1-2-3 inning of the game.

Numbers game
2: The number of home runs clubbed by Astros hitters in the third inning of Game 1. Wright surrendered the same number of homers in all of September in six starts spanning 34 1/3 innings.

He's No. 1
Ausmus has a knack for coming up big in Game 1 against the Braves. He hit a game-tying home run on Wednesday night off Wright, his second career postseason homer. The other came in Game 1 of the 2001 NL Division Series, off the Braves' Greg Maddux

Last word
"I hope there's an urgency that they feel right now to get it done. ... To watch our senior guys play, it's been a real treat for me, too, because I can see a little urgency in their eyes." -- Clemens, talking about contributions from veterans like Bagwell and Craig Biggio

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


MLB.com