Sports Addict: The Houston Astros are on a mission, and they won’t stop until the Wild Card is clearly in their possession…

by dentonramsey

Sports Addict: The Houston Astros are on a mission, and they won’t stop until the Wild Card is clearly in their possession…

By Denton Ramsey/Staff Writer


As of Tuesday night, the Astros held onto a 53-47 record, a mere two games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League Wild Card race.

And talk about an incredible win on Tuesday night. Jason Lane smoked a walk-off homerun to deep right field in the bottom of the ninth, his sixth of the season, to give the Astros a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia.

The excitement is impossible to hide. With the Monday and Tuesday games being limited to radio broadcast, I sat in eager anticipation with my hand-held radio as the Astros began their home stand with two straight victories over the Phillies.

After Tuesday night’s victory, I couldn’t help but get chills as Houston has now climbed to six games over .500.

No one could have predicted it–no one.

I know it’s early, very early, to be making postseason predictions, but a majority of people (including analysts for ESPN and other sports programs) counted Houston out after they began the season with a pitiful 15-30 record.

However, I feel calmly confident that the Astros will still be playing America’s Pastime in the 2005 play-off picture.

The Astros pitching staff has continued to dominate the league, and the bullpen (for the most part) has done their job.

With the pure power and extreme excitement in these late July games, it’s hard to see how anyone can’t support the aspiring Astros.

Houston found a way to win, once again, on Tuesday night–giving Roy Oswalt his 14th win of the season.

Speaking of 14, let’s talk about some of the more recent extra-inning excitement for the ‘stros–the most recent coming against the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Eric Bruntlett, a seldom used utility man for Houston, proved he could come through in the clutch–blasting a three-run homer in the top of the 14th inning to give the Astros a 4-1 victory.

With the win, Houston moved to 7-4 on their most recent road trip–a big turnaround from the beginning of the season.

The extra-inning affair prior to Sunday is one that many Houston fans, including myself, have erased from their memories.

But if we have to look back, let’s make it quick.

The hated Harville … with Houston taking a one-run lead in the top of the 13th inning over NL leader St. Louis, things looked to be positive for the underdog Astros.

But then came Chad Harville, who decided he would go “right after” powerhouse Albert Pujols.

And what was the result? A 384-foot “see-you-later” homerun to give the Astros the heart-breaking loss.

As I said earlier, I have tried to erase that game from my memory, and for the most part I have.

Let’s just hit delete on that game one extra-inning loss to the Cards … the most recent one leaves a much better taste in my mouth.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the Astros previous two wins over Philadelphia, let me re-hash what happened.

On Monday night, the Astros used the long ball, five times to be exact, to destroy the Phillies as Andy Pettitte pitched to near perfection.

Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman made it back-to-backs, twice, as Houston blew out Philly 7-1 at Minute Maid Park.

On Tuesday night, as mentioned earlier, the Astros once again proved to those doubters that Houston can, and will, win games in the clutch.

And guess who was out on the mound last night for the red-hot Houston Astros? None other than the Rocket himself, Roger Clemens (8-4), who holds an astonishing 1.40 ERA.

Due to press deadlines, Wednesday’s game is not covered in this column.

But if I had to venture a guess, I would assume that the Rocket will be singing along to the Beatles’ “Number 9” as Houston will move to a season-high seven games over .500.

So, who out there still doubts Houston and the Killer B’s? For those who answer “I do,” I have only two words in reply:

Bring it.

And to steal a line from former Rockets coach Rudy T, “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.”

The Houston Astros are on a mission, and as stated last week, they won’t stop until the Wild Card is clearly in their possession…


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