NLCS Game 5 pregame notes

NLCS Game 5 pregame notes

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Tonight's National Anthem will be performed by Carol Woods.

FIRST PITCH: Throwing out tonight's ceremonial first pitch will be Frankie Velasquez.

GOD BLESS AMERICA: Tonight's rendition of God Bless America will be performed by Carol Woods.

TONIGHT: Houston hosts St. Louis in Game Five of the 36th National League Championship Series...The Astros staked themselves to a 3-1 series lead with a 2-1 win Sunday afternoon...Brandon Backe allowed one run over 5.2 innings of work and fanned seven Cardinals batters while four Astros relievers combined to one-hit St. Louis the rest of the way...Jason Lane went deep for Houston in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score at 1-1 before the Astros plated the winning run in the seventh inning on Morgan Ensberg's sacrifice fly that brought home Willy Taveras...The Astros advanced to the LCS after defeating the Atlanta Braves three games to one in their best-of-five Division Series while the Cardinals swept the San Diego Padres 3-0 in the Division Series round.

GAME FIVE NOTABLES: Since the best-of-seven format was introduced in 1985, all but one series (Atlanta vs. Cincinnati in 1995) has gone at least five games.
• This is the 11th time since the best-of-seven format began in 1985 that a team has jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the NLCS...Eight of the previous 10 teams went on to advance 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 Chicago Cubs (led Florida 3-1, lost 4-3).
• Since 1985 the home team is 12-6 in Game Five of the NLCS, including 5-1 in the last six years (Atlanta lost to Arizona at home in 2001).
• In the 10 previous times a club held a 3-1 lead, four of the series ended in five games, four ended in six games and two went to a seventh and deciding game...The last team to hold a 3-1 lead and close out the series in five games was San Francisco over St. Louis in 2002.

ASTROS IN GAME FIVE: The Astros are 1-2 in Game Five in their previous three trips to the NLCS...Houston was eliminated from the 1980 NLCS by Philadelphia after the Phillies won 8-7 in 10 innings in Game Five...The Astros also lost 2-1 in 12 innings against the Mets in Game Five of the 1986 LCS...Last year Houston took a 3-2 series lead after beating St. Louis by a score of 3-0 in Game Five here at Minute Maid Park.

CARDS IN GAME FIVE: The Cardinals are 1-5 in the six previous times the club has played in a Game Five of the NLCS...The Cardinals have lost five straight times in Game Five...St. Louis has been shut out three times (1996, 2000 & 2004) in Game Five of the LCS...The club's only win in Game Five of the LCS occurred in 1985 against Los Angeles.

BOUNCING BACK: Tonight is a rematch of Game One in which St. Louis' Chris Carpenter won a 5-3 decision over Andy Pettitte...Pettitte hasn't lost back-toback starts in the postseason since losing in Games Two and Six of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks while he was a member of the New York Yankees.

THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB: Tonight is Andy Pettitte's 11th start in a LCS game...He's been the winning pitcher twice in his career in games that have earned his club a berth in the World Series...On October 13, 1996, as a member of the New York Yankees, he allowed two runs in 8.0 innings of work and won a 6-4 decision against Baltimore's Scott Erickson in Game Five of the ALCS...He also beat Seattle's Aaron Sele in Game Five of the ALCS on October 22, 2001 to clinch the Yankees berth to the Fall Classic against Arizona.

A HERO CAN SAVE US: Chris Carpenter won a major-league high 12 games on the road this season...The Cy Young candidate won 12 straight road games before suffering his only road loss on September 23 in Milwaukee...His .923 road winning percentage is tops all-time among Cardinals (minimum 10 wins)...The Cards lost in each of Carpenter's last three road starts during the regular season.

PETTITTE IN THE POSTSEASON: Andy Pettitte will be making his 33rd postseason start this evening, surpassing Roger Clemens and Tom Glavine...Pettitte also ranks third all-time in innings pitched (199.2) in postseason play behind John Smoltz (207.0) and Tom Glavine (201.1).

MIRROR IMAGES: Houston has outscored the Cardinals by a total of three runs (13-10) after the first four games of this year's series...In last year's seven game series between St. Louis and Houston, the Cardinals outscored the Astros by a total of three runs (34-31). LOST: St. Louis enters tonight's contest with a LCS record seven game road losing streak...The Cards haven't won away from Busch Stadium in this round of the playoffs since Game Three of the 2002 LCS against San Francisco...Four teams have lost six consecutive road LCS games (the last to do that was Houston from 1986-2005).

LIVING ON THE EDGE: Since 1996, Tony La Russa's club is 3-5 when facing elimination in the playoffs...Two of those wins came last year when the Cards returned to St. Louis trailing 3-2 in the LCS before rallying to win the series 4-3 over the Astros...The Cards are 2-3 since 1996 in the League Championship Series round of the playoffs when facing elimination.

SEALING THE DEAL: Houston is 2-8 all-time in the postseason in series-clinching opportunities...The Astros have gone 0-4 in potential LCS clinching games, including 0-2 last year after losing a 3-2 lead in the series and in 1980 when they led Philadelphia 2-1 before losing the series in five games.

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


THE TOUGHEST THREE OUTS: Houston's Brad Lidge is now just one of seven pitchers to collect three saves in a NLCS...The only pitcher to record four saves in a LCS was Dennis Eckersley, who did so in 1988 with the Oakland A's...In addition, Sunday's save for Lidge was the fifth of his career in the NLCS...He is now tied with St. Louis' Jason Isringhausen, Tug McGraw and Robb Nen for most career saves in the NLCS.

SERIES-LY: Houston enters tonight's game with an opportunity to advance to the World Series for the first time in club history...The Astros are one of six current teams in Major League Baseball that has yet to play in the World Series (also Washington/Montreal, Colorado, Seattle, Texas and Tampa Bay).

A CENTRAL CHAMPION: Sunday night the American League Central Division champion Chicago White Sox clinched a berth to the World Series for the first time since 1959...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 11 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 -- 3 (Cleveland '95, '97, Chicago '05)
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)

SQUEEZED AT THE JUICE BOX: The Astros have won seven straight postseason games at Minute Maid Park and are 8-3 all time in their new home...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 longest home winning streak during the postseason is 10 games, which was accomplished by the New York Yankees from 1998-2000.

FOURGET ABOUT THE PAST: The Cardinals have lost three straight games for the first time since a three-game slide from September 22-24...St. Louis did not lose more than three in a row at any point this year during the regular season...The Redbirds haven't lost four in a row since being swept by the Boston Red Sox last year in the World Series.

THE LAUNCH PAD: The Astros have gone deep a total of 16 times in 11 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).

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-86 (.279) with seven doubles, two home runs, seven RBI and 14 runs scored.

BROKEN CLUTCH: The Astros have gone 2-for-31 (.065) with runners in scoring position in the first four games of this year's LCS...Houston hit .261 with RISP during the regular season.

PEN POWER: Houston's bullpen has recorded a 1.76 ERA (30.2ip/6er) this year in the postseason...Astros relievers finished fourth in the National League in ERA (3.65) behind St. Louis (3.17), San Diego (3.49) and Washington (3.55).

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.

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 24-18 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 190184
Hits378 369
Home Runs 50 47
ERA 3.794.39


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 @HOU42,8232,259,233.261,355,539.95
Game Four @HOU43,0102,268,960.741,361,376.44
Game Five @HOU   
Game Six @STL   
Game Seven @STL   


GAME 1 RECAP

 123456789RHELOB
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

 123456789RHELOB
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.

GAME 3 RECAP

 123456789RHELOB
ST. LOUIS0000110013718
HOUSTON00020200x41108


FIRST PITCH/TEMP: 3:30/72 DEGREES INSIDE (84 OUTSIDE)
ATTENDANCE: 42,823 (sellout)
TIME: 3:00
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.

YEAROPPONENTTRAILING RESULT
1985Los Angeles2-0Won Series 4-2
1987San Francisco3-2Won Series 4-3
2004Houston3-2Won 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 fift

h 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).



GAME 4 RECAP

 123456789RHELOB
ST. LOUIS0001000001515
HOUSTON00010010x26011


FIRST PITCH/TEMP: 3:46/ 72 DEGREES INSIDE (84 OUTSIDE)
TIME: 3:11
ATTENDANCE: 43,010 (SELLOUT)
WINNING PITCHER: CHAD QUALLS (1-0)
LOSING PITCHER: JASON MARQUIS (0-1)
SAVE: BRAD LIDGE (3)
HOME RUNS: LANE (1)

UNDER PRESSURE: The Astros are now the 11th team since the seven-game format began in 1985 to jump out to a 3-1 lead in the NLCS...Eight of the previous 10 teams went on to advance 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 Chicago Cubs (led Florida 3-1, lost 4-3).

BACK-E BREAKER: The run allowed by Brandon Backe in the top of the fourth inning snapped his streak of 11.0 consecutive scoreless innings against St. Louis in the playoffs.

STREAKY NUMBERS: The run allowed by Jeff Suppan in the bottom of the fourth inning snapped a streak of 13.0 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to his September 20 start at Cincinnati.

GET IN THE FAST LANE JASON: Jason Lane hit his second career postseason home run with a solo blast in the bottom of the fourth inning...He also went deep in his first career playoff game last year at Atlanta in Game One of the Division Series.

FOUR YOUR INFORMATION: In the 18 occasions a series stood at 2-1 heading into Game Four, the winner of Game Three has now won Game Four eight times, including four out of the last five seasons.

SAVING THE DAY: Brad Lidge picked up his third save of this series...Dennis Eckersley is the only pitcher to pick up four saves in a League Championship Series (1988 with Oakland)...Lidge is now the seventh pitcher in NLCS history to have three saves in a LCS (the last was St. Louis' Jason Isringhausen in 2004).

MR. CONSISTENCY: Albert Pujols has hit safely in 15 of 16 career games in the NLCS...In addition, Pujols' two hits gave him 25 hits for his career in the NLCS, moving him ahead of Willie McGee (24) for the most in Cardinals history.

AND THE WHIFF: Brandon Backe's seven strikeouts were a postseson-high...His previous high was six in Game One of last year's NLCS.

BROKEN CLUTCH: Houston has now gone 2-for-31 (.065) with runners in scoring position in the first four games of this series...The Cardinals are hitting .178 (8-for-45) in the postseason with RISP.

HOUSE OF HORRORS: St. Louis has scored a combined four runs in their last three postseason games at Minute Maid Park...In addition to Sunday, the Cards were held to three runs Saturday and were shut out in Game Five of the 2004 LCS.

STUCK IN A MOMENT: St. Lous has lost three consecutive games against Houston for the first time since also dropping three straight in Games Three thru Five of last year's NLCS.

CLOSE CALLS: The Astros and Cardinals have been involved in seven one run games (including postseason) against each other this year...The Astros have gone 4-3 in those games.

HOME BOYS: The Astros have won seven straight postseason games at Minute Maid Park...Houston improved to 8-3 all time at Minute Maid Park in the playoffs.

THE LAUNCH PAD: The Astros have gone deep a total of 16 times in 11 playoff games at Minute Maid Park and have homered in all but one of those games.