The Astros made franchise history on Saturday night, as their 4-0 win over the Yankees put them in the World Series for just the second time in their 56 seasons of play. It also brought back fond memories for Astros fans of the last time they made it to the Fall Classic -- 2005.
Twelve years ago, the Astros were in the National League and trying to hold off the Cardinals in Game 6 of the NLCS. It was a rematch of the 2004 NLCS, when the Cardinals took down the Astros in seven games (despite Carlos Beltran's heroics), and Albert Pujols' dramatic Game 5 homer off Brad Lidge had kept the 2005 edition alive, ensuring a return trip to St. Louis.
The Astros' 2004 hopes had died at Busch Stadium, but this time, they would not be denied. They had a standout starter step up, just as ALCS MVP Justin Verlander did this year, and NLCS MVP Roy Oswalt dazzled for the second start in a row. The Astros carried a 5-1 lead to the ninth, where reliever Dan Wheeler induced the final out from Yadier Molina:
The ball settled into Jason Lane's glove, he gave center fielder Willy Taveras a hug and the Astros were National League champions. After enduring playoff struggles throughout the '90s and early 2000s, as well as NLCS frustrations in 1980 and 1986, they were pennant-winners at last.
Longtime Astros Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell were finally going to the World Series. The party was on:
Although the Astros fell in the World Series to the White Sox, it was a milestone season for the organization.
There's even a small connection on the 2017 club to 2005, as those Astros eliminated the Braves on Chris Burke's walk-off homer in the NLDS. Atlanta's young catcher? Brian McCann, who this year got to hug Lance McCullers on the mound as the Astros clinched the American League pennant.
Now, the Astros will aim to do the 2005 squad one better and take the championship trophy back to Houston for the first time ever.
Tune in to World Series Game 1: Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on FOX.