NLCS Game 3 pregame notes

NLCS Game 3 pregame notes

PRESENTATION OF COLORS: The colors will be presented today by NASA personnel.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Today's National Anthem will be performed by country music star Clay Walker.

FIRST PITCH: Throwing out today's ceremonial first pitch will be former Astros pitcher and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.

GOD BLESS AMERICA: Today's rendition of God Bless America will be performed by Clay Walker.

THIS AFTERNOON: Houston hosts St. Louis in Game Three of the 36th National League Championship Series...The Astros tied the series at 1-1 with a 4-1 victory Thursday night at Busch Stadium...Roy Oswalt allowed one run over 7.0 innings of work while Brad Lidge twirled 2.0 scoreless frames and picked up a save...The Cardinals are coming off a three game sweep of San Diego in the Division Series...The Astros advanced to the LCS after defeating Atlanta three games to one in their best-of-five Division Series.

GAME THREE NOTABLES: Since the best of seven format was introduced in 1985, the home team has won Game Three 12 times.
• In the previous 35 NLCS, the home team has won Game Three 22 times...Prior to Houston's Game Three home win last year at Minute Maid Park, the road team won Game Three five straight times.

ASTROS IN GAME THREE: The Astros are 2-1 in Game Three in their previous three trips to the NLCS...Their only Game Three Loss came in 1986 against the Mets.

CARDS IN GAME THREE: The Cardinals are 6-1 in Game Three in their previous seven trips to the NLCS...Prior to last year's Game Three loss here at Minute Maid Park, the Cards won the first six times the club played in Game Three of the LCS.

K-ING OF THE HILL: This afternoon's starter, Roger Clemens, ranks second alltime in postseason career strikeouts with a total of 170...He trails only Atlanta's John Smoltz, who has fanned a total of 194 batters in postseason play...Smoltz also has a LCS-high 89 strikeouts while Clemens ranks second with 70.

AS A MATT-ER OF FACT: This afternoon's start by Matt Morris is his fifth in the NLCS ...The five starts will be the most by a Cards pitcher in NLCS history, surpassing John Tudor and Andy Benes, who each made four starts.

SQUEEZED AT THE JUICE BOX: The Astros have won five straight postseason games at Minute Maid Park...Since opening its doors in 2000, Houston is 6-3 at home during the playoffs...Their last loss came in Game Four of the 2004 Division Series against Atlanta after the Braves broke a 5-5 tie with a run in the ninth inning for a 6-5 win.

THE LAUNCH PAD: The Astros have gone deep a total of 14 times in nine playoff games here at Minute Maid Park and have homered in all but one of those games (October 10, 2001 vs. Atlanta in a 1-0 loss in the Division Series)...In addition, Houston has averaged fives run per game (45 runs total) in its nine postseason games at Minute Maid Park.

CAGING THE BIRDS: Houston has not allowed a run in 14.0 consecutive innings at home against the Cardinals in the playoffs...The Astros shut out St. Louis 3-0 in Game Five of last year's LCS and in the final 5.0 innings of Game Four...The last Cardinals run at Minute Maid came in the top of the fourth inning in Game Four of the 2004 LCS when Albert Pujols singled home Tony Womack.

ROOKIE BALL: Astros rookie infielder Chris Burke has gone 5-for-8 this year in the postseason...Four of Chris' five postseason hits have gone for extra bases (one double, a triple and two home runs)...Thursday night in Game Two he went 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI...In Game One he took St. Louis' Chris Carpenter deep for a two-run homer...Burke also ended the Division Series against Atlanta last Sunday when he hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 18th inning off Braves rookie Joey Devine.

DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: Houston's Lance Berkman has hit safely in six of his last seven home games in the postseason...Berkman has gone 11-for-24 (.458) with two doubles, three home runs, 11 RBI, nine runs scored and a .917 slugging percentage in those seven games...He has also scored a run in each of his last five playoff games at Minute Maid Park.

REGGIE ROLLING: Cardinals outfielder Reggie Sanders has collected 12 RBI in his first five games of this year's postseason...Last year David Ortiz had a postseason- high 19 RBI in 14 games for the World Champion Boston Red Sox...Sanders drove in a run in 10 straight games dating back to the regular season before held without an RBI in Game Two Thursday night at Busch Stadium. RED BIRDS ON THE ROAD: St. Louis' 50-31 road record was tied for second-best among all major league teams along with the Cleveland Indians...The only team to boast a better road record was the Chicago White Sox, who went 52-29.

MINUTE MAID MINUTES: Houston was tied for the second-best home record among all major league teams after going 53-28 along with Atlanta and the New York Yankees...The Boston Red Sox led the majors with a 54-27 home record.

PUJOLS' KIND OF PARK: St. Louis' Albert Pujols is second among all visiting players with 14 career home runs at Minute Maid Park...The only visiting player to go deep more times than Pujols at Minute Maid is Sammy Sosa (15)...Pujols has also hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games during the regular season at Minute Maid while going 26-for-64 with with four doubles, six home runs, nine RBI and 14 runs scored in those 17 contests...He has also reached base safely in 33 of his 35 career games played at Minute Maid Park during the regular season.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

HOUSTON ASTROS
The Astros were the NL's wild card winner, finishing in second place in the Central Division with an 89-73 record...Houston finished 11.0 games behind St. Louis in the division.

Houston advanced to the LCS by defeating the Atlanta Braves three games to one in the Division Series...The Astros clinched their berth to the LCS after winning in 18-innings Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid.

DATE SITEWINNERSCORE
10/5 ATLPettitte 10-5
10/6 ATL Smoltz 1-7
10/8 HOU Oswalt7-3
10/9 HOUClemens 7-6


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
The Cardinals won the NL Central, finishing 11.0 games ahead of the Houston Astros.

St. Louis won 100 games for the second straight season for the second time in club history...The Cards also posted triple digits in wins in three straight years from1942-44. The Cards swept San Diego three games to none in the Division Series.

DATE SITEWINNERSCORE
10/4STLCarpenter W, 8-5
10/6STL Mulder W, 6-2
10/8 SDMorris W, 7-4


POST-SEASON RECAP

HOUSTON ASTROS
The Astros are playing in the LCS for the fourth time in club history...Here is how they have fared in the previous three . . .

YEAROPPONENTRESULT
1980PhiladelphiaL, 2-3
1986New YorkL, 2-4
2004St. LouisL, 3-4


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
St. Louis is playing in its eighth LCS....Here is how the Redbirds have fared in the previous seven...

YEAROPPONENTRESULT
1982AtlantaW, 3-0
1985Los AngelesW, 4-2
1987San FranciscoW, 4-3
1996AtlantaL, 3-4
2000New YorkL, 1-4
2002 San FranciscoL, 1-4
2004HoustonW, 4-3


FOREVER YOUNG: This afternoon 43-year-old Roger Clemens will make his 14th career start in the LCS...Clemens is slated to become the third-oldest pitcher to appear in a LCS game...Here's a look at how the others fared in their appearances.

PitcherAgeTeamDate of AppearanceResult
Phil Niekro43 years, 191 daysAtlanta10/9/1982 vs. STLND, 6.0ip/6h/2er (start)
Dennis Martinez43 years, 151 daysAtlanta10/14/1998 vs. SDND, 1.1ip/0h/0r (relief)
Roger Clemens43 years, 72 daysHouston10/15/2005 vs. STL---


BROKEN CLUTCH: The Astros have gone 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of this year's LCS...Chris Burke's run-scoring single in the top of the eighth inning in Game Two has accounted for Houston's only hit with a runner in scoring position in this series.

CENTRAL CHAMPIONS?: Last year the Cardinals became the first NL Central representative to advance to the World Series since Major League Baseball switched to six divisions in 1994...No Central team has ever won the World Series since the six division format began in 1994...Here's a look at each division and how many World Series representaives they've each had over the last 10 years (no World Series in 1994)...underline indicates World Champions...

AL East -- 7 (New York '96, '98, '99, '00, '01, '03, Boston '04)
AL Central -- 2 (Cleveland '95, '97)
AL West -- 1 (Anaheim '02)


NL East -- 6 (Atlanta '95, '96, '99, Florida '97, '03, New York '00)
NL Central -- 1 (St. Louis '04)
NL West -- 3 (San Diego '98, Arizona '01, San Francisco '02)

SAVE THE LAST OUT: Jason Isringhausen picked up his fifth career LCS save in Game One Wednesday night...He is now one of just three pitchers in NLCS history to have five career saves (also Tug McGraw and Robb Nen)...Dennis Eckersley owns a LCS-record 11 saves during his big league career.

THE VIEW FROM THE TOP: The Astros and Cardinals have won the Central Division in all but one year since 1996...The only other team to claim the Central Division crown in that time was the 2003 Chicago Cubs.

MOVING ON UP: This is the eighth National League Championship Series appearance for the St. Louis Cardinals...The Cards are now tied with Cincinnati for third-most appearances in the NLCS...Only Atlanta (11) and Pittsburgh (9) have appeared in more NLCS.

Winning Ways: Tony La Russa is managing in his tenth LCS, which includes one year with the White Sox (1983), four with the Oakland A's (1988-90) and now his fifth with the Cardinals (1996, 2000, 2002, 2004 & 2005)...La Russa's 2,214 wins as a manager ranks third all-time behind Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763)...La Russa has also compiled 47 career wins in the postseason, which ranks third behind Joe Torre (74) and Bobby Cox (66).

Scrap Iron: Phil Garner is managing in his second straight LCS after being named manager of the Astros on November 2, 2004...Last year Phil took over the Astros following the All-Star break and the club responded by going 48-26 while falling one win shy of making it to the World Series...Phil was a member of the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, where he set a World Series record for most double plays by a second baseman in a seven game series (nine) and tied a World Series record for highest batting average (.500) in a seven game series by collecting at least one hit each of the seven games.

The Best of You: The Cardinals posted the best record in the majors this year with 100 wins in 2005...It's the eighth time in club history the Cards posted triple digits in wins.

FAMILIAR FACES: This is the first time two teams are facing each other in the NLCS in back-to-back seasons since Pittsburgh and Atlanta in 1991-92...Los Angeles and Philadelphia also met in the NLCS in back-to-back years in 1977-78.

WILD BOYS: Each of the last three World Series Champions has been a Wild Card team (Anaheim in 2002, Florida in 2003 and Boston in 2004)...The NL Wild Card team has advanced to the World Series in two of the last three seasons (San Francisco in 2002 and Florida in 2003).

GO THE DISTANCE: The last two National League Championship Series have gone seven games (also Chicago vs. Florida in 2003) after each of the previous three were decided in five games...Since the league went to a seven-game format in 1985, 14 of the last 19 (74 percent) NLCS have gone at least six games.....That breaks down to seven that went the full seven games and seven that were decided in six games.

CLOSE ONES: Since the beginning of the 2004 season, the Cardinals have posted a 24-19 record against the Astros (including postseason)...Here's a breakdown of the two clubs against each other since the beginning of 2004.

 St. LouisHouston
Runs 191188
Hits384 380
Home Runs 51 47
ERA 3.774.32


THRU THE GATES:

Here is a game-by-game report on this year's NLCS attendance, net gate and players' pool.

HOU vs. STL AttendanceNet GatePlayer Pool
Game One @STL52,3322,559,019.761,535,411.86
Game Two @STL52,3582,559,685.191,535,811.11
Game Three @HOU   
Game Four @HOU   
Game Five @HOU   
Game Six @STL   
Game Seven @STL   


GAME 1 RECAP
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HOUSTON0000002013706
ST. LOUIS21002000x5814


FIRST PITCH/TEMP 7:29 p.m./68 degrees
ATTENDANCE: 52,332 (sellout)
TIME OF GAME: 2:29
WINNING PITCHER: CHRIS CARPENTER (1-0)
LOSING PITCHER: ANDY PETTITTE (0-1)
SAVE: JASON ISRINGHAUSEN (1)
HOME RUNS: SANDERS (1), BURKE (1)

COLONEL SANDERS LEADS THE WAY: Reggie Sanders has knocked in 12 runs in his first four games of this postseason...Sanders' first inning bomb was also his first in 20 career LCS games...Reggie has also knocked in at least one run in 10 straight games dating back to the regular season (a total of 22 RBI).

ZERO TOLERANCE: Chris Carpenter tossed 12.0 straight scoreless frames this postseason before surrendering the two-run home run to Chris Burke in the seventh inning.

PETTITTE IN THE POSTSEASON: The start by Andy Pettitte was the 32nd of his career in the postseason, tied for most among active pitchers along with Tom Glavine...Andy also had his five game LCS winning streak come to an end...The five runs allowed by Pettitte were also the most in his postseason career since surrendering six on Novemer 3rd in Game Six of the 2001 World Series in a 15-2 loss vs. Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

SHORT AND SWEET: Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein has gone 7-for-17 in his first four games of this postseason...Eckstein finished second among all major leaguers in hits from August 1 thru the remainder of the regular season with a total of 79...San Francisco's Randy Winn had a major league high 83 base knocks in that time period.

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Houston and St. Louis have scored a combined 19 first-inning runs in the last two NLCS...The only game neither team scored a run in the first inning came in Game Five in Houston before Jeff Kent broke a 0-0 game with a three-run walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

THE POWER OF ONE: The winner of Game One of the NLCS has advanced to the World Series in each of the last 12 years...The 1991 Atlanta Braves were the last team to lose Game One of the NLCS but still advance to the World Series.

BIRDS OF PREY: The Cardinals have outscored their opponents 16-0 in the first four innings of this postseason.

WELCOME HOME: The home team has won each game played between these two clubs in the last two NLCS...In addition, the Cardinals have won nine straight games at Busch Stadium in the LCS and Division Series rounds of the playoffs (their last home loss in the first two rounds of the playoffs came in Game Two of the 2002 NLCS vs. San Francisco).

PINCH ME: Houston's Chris Burke has homered in his last two at bats this postseason...In addition to Wednesday, his 18th inning walkoff home run Sunday afternoon vs. Atlanta ended the Division Series...Burke's pinch-hit blast was the 11th in NLCS history...It was also the third pinch hit homer by an Astro in postseason play (also Mike Lamb in Game One of the 2004 NLCS and Daryle Ward in Game Three of the 2001 NL Division Series).

HOW MAY I ASSIST YOU: Mark Grudzielanek's eight assists tied a NLCS record for assists by a second baseman in a nine inning game...Grudzielanek also had eight assists as a member of the Chicago Cubs on October 8, 2003...Philadelphia's Manny Trillo also recorded eight assists on October 7, 1980.

GAME 2 RECAP
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HOUSTON01001002041117
ST. LOUIS0000010001608


FIRST PITCH/TEMP: 7:29/67 DEGREES
ATTENDANCE: 52,358 (sellout)
TIME: 3:03
WINNING PITCHER: ROY OSWALT (1-0)
LOSING PITCHER: MARK MULDER (0-1)
SAVE: BRAD LIDGE (1)
HOME RUNS: PUJOLS (1)


STREAKY NUMBERS: Thursday's win by the Astros snapped a six game road losing streak in LCS games...Houston is now 3-8 on the road in NLCS history...The Houston victory also put an end to St. Louis' seven game winning streak dating back to the regular season... St. Louis' nine game winning streak at home in the first two rounds of the playoffs also ended Thursday.

UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY: The Cardinals trailed in a game Thursday for the first time since the fourth inning in the final game of the regular season against the Cincinnati Reds on October 2.

DEALING WITH THE CARDS: In his last two starts against St. Louis, Roy Oswalt has allowed two earned runs in 14.0 innings of work (1.29 ERA)...Oswalt also allowed one run over 7.0 innings in his start at Busch Stadium last month on September 27.

LET'S GET IT STARTED: Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder have posted a combined 1.80 ERA (15.0ip/3er) in the first two games of this series.

GAME TWO TRENDS: The road team has now won Game Two of the NLCS on 22 of 36 occasions...In 19 of the 36 NLCS, the loser of Game One has bounced back to win Game Two...In NLCS history, the loser of Game One has come back to win the series on 10 occasions (the most recent was the 1991 Atlanta Braves).

HITTING THEIR STRIDE: The Astros are 4-0 this year in the postseason when they bang out 10 or more hits.

FROM THE TOP: Houston's 1-2-3 hitters went a combined 6-for-14 on Thursday.

PHAT ALBERT: Albert Pujols' home run in the sixth inning was the sixth of his career in the NLCS...Steve Garvey has a NLCS-high eight career home runs.

LIGHTS OUT LIDGE: Brad Lidge has not allowed a run in 10.0 innings of work in five career appearances in the NLCS...He also picked up his third career NLCS save in this evening's tilt.

PEN POWER: Houston's bullpen has posted a 1.82 ERA (24.2ip/5er) in the first six games of this year's playoffs.

SANDERS UPDATE: St. Louis' Reggie Sanders left the game with a lower back sprain.