Last night I found a ticket to game 5 of the NLCS in Houston, TX. The series was tied 2-2 after Houston won the last 2. My outfield seat cost just $45 — standing room only tickets were exceeding $100! Outfield section 254 was the best ticket I could find.
Backe started for Houston; Williams for the Cardnials. “Pivotal” best describes this game. Winner needs just 1 more win to goto the world series. And Houston has been HOT at home.
I sat beside two gentlemen who were from Calgary, CA. They are heading to Iraq for a year of engineering service.
Beltran made a fabulous basket catch mid-game. He then made a super catch on “the hill” in center.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, score even at zero, Kent blasted a 3 run homerun that almost hit the train. Minute Maid Park erupted. Not a single person left for 15 minutes. What a great ballgame! The article below describes the game.
Pitching dominant until Astros’ Kent plays Superman
By Tom Krasovic
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
October 19, 2004
Houston Astros’ Jeff Kent is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after his three-run home run in the ninth inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series in Houston, Monday.
HOUSTON – Led by two favored sons from the Lone Star State, the Houston Astros last night charged to within one victory of giving Texas its first entrant in a World Series.
The Astros, age 43, climbed atop the National League Championship Series three games to two when Jeff Kent, batting with one out in the ninth inning, launched a three-run home run to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 before 43,045 at Minute Maid Park.
Kent’s blast off Jason Isringhausen, the team’s relief ace, was just reward for Astros pitcher Brandon Backe. In a stunning, eight-inning effort by a 26-year-old who’s yet to work a full major league season, Backe allowed just one hit, Tony Womack’s sharp single with two outs in the sixth.
Batting with Carlos Beltran on second base and Lance Berkman on first, Kent belted the first pitch he saw, a slider, off the facade above the left-center field wall, touching off a raucous celebration.
Just another Houston hoedown, it was for these Astros, who snaked the wild-card berth on the season’s final day with their 18th consecutive home victory and won Games 3, 4, 5 of this series at home after losing Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis.
“I’ve never seen crowds like our fans in this homestand,” said Astros manager Phil Garner, whose team didn’t make an error in the three games. “It’s something, and I think the fans built a large part in our play. It’s been building this last six weeks, and it’s just gotten crazier and crazier.”
Kent, whose winters are spent on a cattle ranch near Austin, broke from his stoic ways as he trotted out his home run. Inspired by the theatrics of Red Sox slugger Dave Ortiz, whose home run less than 24 hours earlier won Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, Kent flipped his helmet before reaching his jubilant teammates.
“That’s the kid in me that loves to play the game,” Kent said.
Backe grew up idolizing Astros stars Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. However, the ovation that greeted Backe was as loud, if not louder, as Astros players were introduced before Game 3.
Backe hails from Galveston, an island town about an hour from Houston. The fiery right-hander was a standout high school quarterback who led his team to the state’s 5A semifinal opposite a team quarterbacked by Drew Brees, the future Chargers QB.
Better-rested than in his Game 1 start, in which he gave up four runs, Backe opened in a groove. He began with a strike to the first six hitters and 12 of 14. Not until Jim Edmonds walked with one out in the fifth did a Cardinal reach base. Womack’s single came after Backe became the first pitcher in NLCS history to open with 5 2/3 hitless innings.
“I was upset that I gave up a hit,” Backe said. “I had a chance to have something remarkable happen.”
Larry Walker followed with a walk, which brought up hitting star Albert Pujols, who had hit three home runs in the series. Backe showed toughness, firing an inside fastball with his first pitch. Pujols hit a weak popup. Backe went on to retire the final seven Cardinals before Brad Lidge, coming off two scoreless outings in Games 3 and 4, retired the Cardinals in the ninth.
But Woody Williams gave Backe no margin for error. A former Padre and Houston native, Williams held the Astros to one run over seven innings. Next came Isringhausen, who retired the Astros on 11 pitches in the eighth.
“We were pulling our hair out,” Kent said.
Beltran had set a postseason record with home runs in the previous five games. The streak ended last night. Beltran still kept busy. He made two fine plays in center field. And he set up Kent’s blow by opening the home ninth with a sharp single – the game’s third hit – and one out later stealing second base on a 1-2 pitch as Berkman batted.
As Kent expected, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had Isringhausen walk Berkman, the cleanup man. In six seasons with the Giants, for whom he often batted behind Barry Bonds, Kent learned to anticipate a walk to the preceding hitter and envision his method of attack. He jumped on an Isringhausen slider, clocked at 89 mph.
“I don’t want to get cheated,” he said. “I was going to take three swings.”
At times, Cardinals hitters appeared overanxious against Backe, never more so than when Renteria, who’s batted .059 in the series, popped out on the first pitch he saw in the fifth. Backe had just hit his first rough patch, throwing 12 pitches two at-bats earlier to Scott Rolen and walking Edmonds on five pitches.
Now, the Cardinals need a win to stay alive, two to reach their first World Series since 1987.
“We’re looking forward to getting home,” La Russa said.