FIRST PITCH: Throwing out today's ceremonial first pitch will be former Houston Astro Billy Hatcher.
GOD BLESS AMERICA: Today's rendition of God Bless America will be performed by Jon Secada.
THIS AFTERNOON: Houston hosts St. Louis in Game Four of the 36th National League Championship Series...The Astros staked themselves to a 2-1 series lead with a 4-3 win Saturday afternoon...Roger Clemens allowed two runs over 6.0 innings of work for Houston...Chad Qualls added 2.0 scoreless frames of relief while Brad Lidge picked up a save for the second time in two games...Mike Lamb went deep for the third time in four career games in the LCS...The Astros advanced to the LCS after defeating Atlanta three games to one in their best-offive Division Series while the Cardinals swept the San Diego Padres 3-0 in the Division Series round.
GAME FOUR NOTABLES: Since the best-of-seven format was introduced in 1985, the home team has won Game Four nine times (most recently Houston over St. Louis last year). This is now the 17th time since the best-of-seven format began in 1985 that a NLCS stood at 2-1 heading into Game Four. In the 17 occasions a series stood a 2-1 heading into Game Four, the winner of Game Three has won Game Four seven times, including three out of the last four seasons. In the last two years, both Houston (2004) and Chicago (2003) were victorious in Game Four but failed to advance to the next round. With a win today, the Astros would hold a 3-1 lead in the series...Since 1985, 10 teams have held a 3-1 lead and eight of those advanced to the World Series...The only two teams to lose with a 3-1 lead were the 1996 Cardinals (led Atlanta 3-1, lost 4-3) and the 2003 Cubs (led Florida 3-1, lost 4-3).
ASTROS IN GAME FOUR: The Astros are 2-1 in Game Four in their previous three trips to the NLCS...Their only Game Four Loss came in 1980 against the Phillies.
CARDS IN GAME FOUR: The Cardinals are 2-4 in the six previous times the club has played in a Game Four of the NLCS...The Cardinals have lost three straight times in Game Four since beating Atlanta in Game Four of the 1996 LCS...St. Louis also lost Game Four of the 1987 LCS against the Giants...St. Louis' other Game Four victory came in 1985 against the Dodgers...The Cards swept Atlanta 3-0 in the 1982 LCS in a five-game-series.
TWO CLOSE: Houston has outscored the Cardinals by a total of two runs (11-9) after the first three games of this year's series...After the first three LCS games last year between these two clubs, St. Louis held a two-run edge in runs (18-16).
BLANKING THE BIRDS: Last year Brandon Backe did not have a decision in his two starts against the Cardinals in the NLCS...In Game One, he allowed four earned runs in 4.2 innings of work... He then came back and tossed 8.0 scoreless frames in a no-decision in Game Five at Minute Maid Park...The Astros went on to win the game after Jeff Kent delivered a three-run walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off St. Louis' Jason Isringhausen.
SUPP'S ON: Jeff Suppan clinched St. Louis' berth to the World Series after winning a 5-2 decision against Roger Clemens in Game Seven of the 2004 LCS against the Astros...Each of his two starts during last year's LCS came against Roger Clemens (he also lost a 5-2 decision against Clemens in Game Three) ...This afternoon is also Jeff's first appearance since winning his start on September 25 at Milwaukee...Suppan has won four straight decisions since suffering a 4-1 setback on August 26 at Washington against Esteban Loaiza.
PUJOLS CLOSING IN ON MCGEE: With his next base hit Albert Pujols will tie Willie McGee for most career hits by a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in NLCS history...Pujols enters this afternoon's contest with a total of 23 in his career in three LCS appearances...McGee played in a total of four League Championship Series with St. Louis.
SQUEEZED AT THE JUICE BOX: The Astros have won six straight postseason games at Minute Maid Park...Since opening its doors in 2000, Houston is 7-3 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 15 times in 10 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 4.9 run per game (49 runs total) in its 10 postseason games at Minute Maid Park.
ROOKIE BALL: Astros rookie infielder Chris Burke has gone 6-for-12 this year in
the postseason...Four of Chris' six 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 seven of his last eight home games in the postseason...Berkman has gone 12-for-28 (.429) with two doubles, three home runs, 11 RBI and nine runs scored in those eight games.
A SHINING STAR: Houston's Craig Biggio went a combined 7-for-54 (.130) with a double, RBI and four runs scored in his first four postseason appearances from 1997-2001...In the last two years, Biggio has gone 24-for-83 (.289) with seven doubles, two home runs, seven RBI and 14 runs scored.
BROKEN CLUTCH: The Astros have gone 2-for-23 with runners in scoring position in the first three games of this year's LCS...Houston hit .261 with RISP during the regular season.
TWO GAME SLIDE: The Cardinals have lost back-to-back games for the first time since September 27-28...St. Louis hasn't lost three in a row since September 22-24.
LOOKING TO THREE PEAT: Houston enters today's game with back-to-back wins against the Redbirds...The Astros haven't beaten the Cardinals in three straight games since also doing so in Games Three thru Five of last year's LCS.
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.
A WINNING TRADITION: St. Louis enters this afternoon's game with an 86-78 all-time record in the postseason...The only club in major league history with more wins in the playoffs are the New York Yankees with a total of 200.
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)
HOW THEY GOT HERE
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.
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.
The Astros are playing in the LCS for the fourth time in club history...Here is how they have fared in the previous three . . .
|1986||New York||L, 2-4|
|2004||St. Louis||L, 3-4|
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
St. Louis is playing in its eighth LCS....Here is how the Redbirds have fared in the previous seven...
|1985||Los Angeles||W, 4-2|
|1987||San Francisco||W, 4-3|
|2000||New York||L, 1-4|
|2002||San Francisco||L, 1-4|
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.
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.
THRU THE GATES:
Here is a game-by-game report on this year's NLCS attendance, net gate and players' pool.
|HOU vs. STL||Attendance||Net Gate||Player Pool|
|Game One @STL||52,332||2,559,019.76||1,535,411.86|
|Game Two @STL||52,358||2,559,685.19||1,535,811.11|
|Game Three @HOU||42,823||2,259,233.26||1,355,539.95|
|Game Four @HOU|
|Game Five @HOU|
|Game Six @STL|
|Game Seven @STL|
GAME 1 RECAP
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
FIRST PITCH/TEMP: 7:29/67 DEGREES
ATTENDANCE: 52,358 (sellout)
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.
GAME 3 RECAP
FIRST PITCH/TEMP: 3:30/72 DEGREES INSIDE (84 OUTSIDE)
ATTENDANCE: 42,823 (sellout)
WINNING PITCHER: ROGER CLEMENS (1-0)
LOSING PITCHER: MATT MORRIS (0-1)
SAVE: BRAD LIDGE (2)
HOME RUNS: LAMB (1)
ROCKET IN THE LCS RECORD BOOK: Roger Clemens started his 14th League Championship Series Game (includes AL & NL), which is now tied for second all-time along with Greg Maddux...Tom Glavine has made a LCS-high 15 starts...Saturday was also Roger's 32nd career start in the postseason, which is tied for most along with Andy Pettitte and Tom Glavine...Clemens is also one of just three pitchers to appear in nine League Championship Series, joining Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.
PITCHING IN: Roger Clemens picked up his second career postseason hit with a single in the bottom of the third inning...His other base knock came as a member of the New York Yankees on October 22, 2003 in Game Four of the World Series off Florida's Carl Pavano.
THE VETERAN: Roger Clemens became the third-oldest pitcher to appear in a LCS game at 43 years-old and 72 days...Only Phil Niekro (43 years, 191 days) and Dennis Martinez (43 years, 151 days) were older to appear in a LCS game.
THE HEART OF THE MATT-ER: The loss by Matt Morris dropped his record to 0-3 in seven career NLCS games (five starts).
DEEP THOUGHTS: The Astros have gone deep a total of 15 times in 10 playoff games 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).
MIKE-D UP: Mike Lamb's two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning was his third in four career LCS games...He also went deep in Games One and Six last year.
HOLD YOUR CARDS: This is the second straight season the Cardinals have trailed in the NLCS...St. Louis has bounced back to win the
NLCS a total of three times after trailing in the series...Here's a look at those three occasions.
|1985||Los Angeles||2-0||Won Series 4-2|
|1987||San Francisco||3-2||Won Series 4-3|
|2004||Houston||3-2||Won Series 4-3|
MR. CONSISTENCY: Albert Pujols has hit safely in 14 of 15 career games in the NLCS, going 23-for-58 (.397).
CLOSE CALLS: The Astros and Cardinals have been involved in six one run games (including postseason) against each other this year...The Astros have gone 3-3 in those games.
ZEROING IN: St. Louis' run in the top of the fifth inning snapped a streak of 18 consecutive innings without a run at Minute Maid Park in the postseason.
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: Lance Berkman has hit safely in seven of his last eight home games in the postseason...Berkman has gone 12-for-28 (.429) with two doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI in those eight games.
THE HIT PARADE: Houston banged out 10 or more hits for the second straight game...The Astros are now 5-0 this year in the postseason when they collect 10 or more hits.
GAME THREE FACTS: St. Louis is now 6-2 all-time in Game Three of the NLCS...The Cards have lost in Game Three in back-to-back LCS...The home team has won Game Three 13 times since the best-of-seven format was introduced in 1985.
HOME BOYS: The Astros have won six straight postseason games at Minute Maid Park...Houston improved to 7-3 all-time at Minute Maid Park in the playoffs.
OOPS: The throwing error by Hector Luna was St. Louis' second of the series...The Cards committed just one error in seven games during last year's NLCS and one miscue in five games in the 2002 LCS vs. San Francisco.
ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END: Brad Lidge's scoreless streak of 16.2 innings in the postseason came to an end...Prior to Saturday, he also did not allow a run to St. Louis in his last 30.1 innings over 23 appearances dating back to 9/14/03 (includes regular and postseason).