10/06/2004 7:41 PM ET
Game balls: Rating Game 1
Beltran, Clemens lead Astros to romp in Atlanta
MLB.com is awarding "game balls" -- or, in this case, cowboy boots -- as the boys from Houston so often wear -- and peaches -- in honor of Georgia's favorite fruit -- for performances in this year's National League Division Series. Here's a look at the Astros' 9-3 win in Game 1.
Five cowboy boots: Freshly shined and a perfect fit, ready for some serious two-stepping
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
Four cowboy boots: The first choice for a night on the town
Three cowboy boots: A few scuff marks, but no one will notice
Two cowboy boots: Showing serious signs of wear
One cowboy boot: Somebody stepped in something
Carlos Beltran: Even if this spectacular player had a quiet regular season with Houston (he did plenty), he made Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker look like a genius with a brilliant Game 1. He went 3-for-3 with a homer, scored two runs and stole a base in his first career postseason appearance. He left after getting hit by a pitch in the sixth, and the Astros hope it isn't serious.
Roger Clemens: Recovering from a stomach virus that kept him out of Sunday's regular-season finale, The Rocket had plenty of fuel stored. Taking the first step toward bringing a World Series championship to his home state, Clemens tossed 117 pitches in seven innings and overcame six walks. For his career, the 42-year-old had never won a Game 1 start in any series entering the start. Think Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was watching?
Lance Berkman and Brad Ausmus: Berkman's bobble and a passed ball by Ausmus allowed the speedy Marcus Giles to reach base, then get into scoring position to give Atlanta a first-inning lead. Both atoned with homers in the third off Jaret Wright, putting Houston on top for good.
Jose Vizcaino: Though he's in there for his veteran leadership and defense, Vizcaino went 0-for-4 and stranded three runners on base.
Five peaches: Warm slice of delicious pie, a la mode
Four peaches: A tasty cobbler
Three peaches: Juicy and refreshing
Two peaches: Mom packed this instead of a candy bar?
One peach: The last piece of fruit from the bottom of the bin
Johnny Estrada: It got lost in a Houston runaway win, but the All-Star catcher gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead off the future Hall of Famer Clemens by again cashing in a runner in scoring position. Estrada, who hit .338 with runners in scoring position during the regular season, lofted a sacrifice fly.
Marcus Giles: Reaching on an error in the first inning, Giles took advantage by stealing second, then advancing to third on a passed ball. The early run he scored was symbolic, showing Clemens that the Braves could take advantage of an opportunity.
Jaret Wright: During the regular season, the 15-game winner returned to the form that made him a postseason star with the Indians in 1997. But he looked anything but sharp in the opener, surrendering three of Houston's four homers. Atlanta needed a strong start from Wright to spare a suspect bullpen, but the right-hander couldn't make it out of the fifth inning.
Chipper Jones: The Braves veteran meekly went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and stranded three runners. If he can't do better than that, Atlanta won't be around much longer.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.