Roy Oswalt

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Posted by r2d2 04/27/2009 @ 10:09

Tags : roy oswalt, baseball players, baseball, sports

News headlines
Oswalt scuffles after bruising hand - MLB.com
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com CINCINNATI -- Roy Oswalt has had his way with the Reds for most of his career, but on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park, the home team held its own. It also thrived once Oswalt was out of the game after six innings,...
Oswalt leaves with no-decision - Rotoworld.com
Roy Oswalt gave up four runs over six innings as part of a no-decision in a 6-4 loss to the Reds on Tuesday night. Oswalt was given a 3-2 lead, but was unable to hold it. He gave up seven hits, including a homer to Laynce Nix, fanning five and walking...
Astros need to be realistic and start to rebuild - FOXSports.com
The Astros already have waited too long to trade Roy Oswalt. But they should not resist the idea any longer. Much as owner Drayton McLane hates to concede, he needs to understand that A) his team is going nowhere and B) his farm system ranks last in...
Baseball Today - SI.com
Roy Oswalt had dominated Cincinnati since 2001, when he beat the Reds as a rookie for his first big league victory. He's 23-1 in his career against the Reds, who have never scored more than four earned runs off him in a game....
Play by play - USA Today
None on with one out and Roy Oswalt due up. Out: Roy Oswalt grounded out third to first. None on with two outs and Michael Bourn due up. Out: Michael Bourn grounded out short to first to end the inning. Single: Micah Owings singled to left....
Roy Oswalt among Tuesday arms on the 50th anniversary of perfection - SBR Forum
Maybe if Roy Halladay was sitting on 114 pitches with a perfect game through 12, Cito Gaston would send Doc out there for the 13th, but he's the only pitcher I can really imagine having a shot these days. And Halladay's not scheduled to pitch today...
Oswalt, Rodriguez bright spots in Astros rotation - Houston Chronicle
“You have the two-headed ace right now,” Cooper said, referring to longtime ace Roy Oswalt and lefthander Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez (4-2, 1.90 ERA) leads the Astros in victories and ERA after having seven quality starts over eight outings....
Phillies in prime position to command NL East - USA Today
Not so fast: Houston's Roy Oswalt is 23-1 against the Reds. But he settled for a no-decision last night. Oswalt left with the game tied 4-4 before a homer by Cincinnati's Joey Votto propelled the Reds to a 6-4 victory. … Milwaukee's Jeff Suppan had...
Oswalt has bruise on right index finger - MLB.com
By Jeff Seidel / Special to MLB.com WASHINGTON -- Pitching didn't cause Astros ace Roy Oswalt too much trouble Tuesday. But hitting was another story. Oswalt got a stinger in his right hand while batting in the fifth and suffered a bone bruise on his...
Justice: Status quo has to work for last-place Astros - Houston Chronicle
Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt haven't been nearly what the Astros thought they would be. When a team thinks it's good enough to make the playoffs, the most important thing is for the stars to perform like stars. “We need to get our people back that are...

Roy Oswalt

Roy oswalt.jpg

Roy Edward Oswalt (pronounced /ˈoʊzwɑːlt/) (born August 29, 1977 in Weir, Mississippi) is an American Major League Baseball player who debuted on May 6, 2001. Oswalt, a slender six-foot zero-inch right-handed starting pitcher, is currently in his seventh major league season. He has spent his entire career in the Houston Astros organization.

Oswalt is the major league leader in wins since he was called up in 2001.

Oswalt grew up in Weir, Mississippi, the son of Billy Oswalt, a logger and a Vietnam veteran. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Nicole, and together they have two daughters. When they were kids, he and Nicole used to play T-ball against one another. At Weir High School, Oswalt played defensive back and wide receiver on the football team, who won a state title his senior year. He graduated in a class with 32 students.

After his freshman year at Holmes Community College in Goodman, Mississippi, Oswalt was drafted by the Houston Astros. They offered him $50,000 to sign, but he decided to go back to play one more year of college baseball. During his sophomore year, he grew two inches, put on 15 pounds, and added 3 mph to his fastball. The following offseason, the Astros drafted him in the 23rd round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft, and he was signed for $500,000 by Astros scouts Ralph Bratton, Brian Granger, and James Farrar on May 18, 1997.

In 1997, Oswalt played rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League, and played well enough to be called up to the Auburn Doubledays of the New York - Penn League.

He would split 1998 with the same two teams. In 16.0 innings of work with the Gulf Coast Astros, he struck out 27 batters and walked just one. He was promoted again to Auburn, where he recorded the league's fourth-lowest ERA (2.18).

In 1999, when Oswalt was with the Class A Michigan Battle Cats in the Midwest League, he suffered an apparently serious shoulder injury. After a month of pain in his upper shoulder, Oswalt was convinced that his shoulder was torn. Shortly thereafter, he was checking the spark plug wires on his pickup truck. He touched one of the spark plug wires, causing the truck's engine to start. The truck's electric current flowed through Oswalt's body, and consequently the muscles in his hand tightened on the spark plug wire. Unable to let go of it, Oswalt grasped the wire for almost one minute. Oswalt then claimed his foot slipped off the truck's bumper and he was finally "thrown off." After the electric shock, Oswalt told his wife that his shoulder's condition improved and that he no longer felt any pain. According to Sports Illustrated, he reported it thus to his wife: "My truck done shocked the fire out of me, and my arm don't hurt no more." Apparently, the electric charge loosened accumulated scar tissue in the shoulder. Oswalt claims he has not felt any pain in his shoulder since the incident. He finished 1999 with 143 strikeouts and a club-high 13 wins.

Oswalt began 2000 with the Class A Kissimmee Cobras of the Florida State League, going 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA before a player injury on Class AA Round Rock Express of the Texas League, got him called up. Oswalt was only expected to pitch a few games, and had been given a round-trip ticket. But after striking out 15 batters in his first start with the Express, manager Jackie Moore tore up his ticket. Nolan Ryan, owner of the Express and Oswalt's idol, admired his calm demeanor and his aggressiveness so much that he successfully lobbied to keep Oswalt on the roster, where he would go 11-4 with a 1.94 ERA, and recording 141 strikeouts over 19 games (18 starts). It was here that he met pitching coach Mike Maddux, who counseled the young Oswalt to be economical in his pitch selection by throwing more breaking balls and inducing groundouts early in the count.

As a result of his success at Round Rock, Oswalt was selected to play on the United States baseball team at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

In the Olympics, Oswalt pitched in the semi-finals against South Korea, a game that the U.S. won with a walk-off home run by Doug Mientkiewicz en route to their surprising gold medal finish.

In 2001, Oswalt started the season with the Class AAA New Orleans Zephyrs, where he went 2-3 before being called up to the major leagues when left-hander Wayne Franklin was optioned down.

Oswalt finished his rookie campaign in 2001 with a 14-3 record and a 2.73 ERA, including a 12- 2 mark with a 2.82 ERA in his 20 starts. He finished second in voting for National League Rookie of the Year, losing unanimously to Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. He also placed fifth in Cy Young Award voting, which was won by Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitched 24 consecutive scoreless innings before giving up a second-inning home run to Andrés Galarraga of the San Francisco Giants.

2002 would be another step forward for Oswalt, who finished the season with a 19-9 record, striking out a career-high 208 batters and finishing with an ERA of 3.01. He would tie with Eric Gagné for fourth in Cy Young voting, losing once again to Johnson. From July 27 to September 8, he won a then-club record 9 straight starts before getting a no-decision in an extra innings Astros loss to St. Louis.

Injuries would plague Oswalt in 2003, but he would still record a 10-5 record over just 21 starts, and would win the Darryl Kile Award, presented to the individual "who reflects the qualities of decency and character represented by" the former Astros pitcher by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). Oswalt also started a no-hitter against the New York Yankees on June 11. Oswalt left after one inning, and 5 more Astros continued to no-hit the Yankees.

He would rebound in 2004 with the first 20-win season of his career, the only National League pitcher to do so that year. He went 20-10 despite a career-high 3.49 ERA, and struck out 206 batters. He finished third in Cy Young Award voting, behind his teammate Roger Clemens and, once again, Randy Johnson. He would also make his first postseason appearance, going 1-0 with a 4.19 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance. He threw two complete-game shutouts during the season, both against the Milwaukee Brewers.

In 2005, Oswalt threw a career-high 241 and two thirds innings, striking out 184 batters and only walking 48 on the way to his second consecutive 20-win season - the first Astro to do so since Joe Niekro in 1979-80. He notched a 20-12 record, including a career-best 10-game winning streak from April 10 to July 26, with a sparkling 2.94 ERA, and was named to his first Major League Baseball All-Star Game as the National League All-Star Final Vote winner. He was fourth in Cy Young Award balloting, losing to Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals. In the postseason that year, Oswalt started 4 games and went 3-0. His two seven inning one-run performances netted him the NLCS MVP award, including a three-hit seven strikeout gem in game 6, after the Astros lost game 5 on a home run by Albert Pujols in the ninth inning.

Oswalt went 15-8 in 2006, and was named to his second consecutive All-Star team. Led the National League with a 2.94 ERA, and struck out 166 batters while only walking 38. At the 2006 trade deadline, there was a rumor that the New York Mets had acquired Roy Oswalt, but it was a false statement. He would again finish fourth in Cy Young Award voting, losing once again to the ace of the Arizona Diamondbacks - not Randy Johnson this time, who had been traded to the New York Yankees - but rather Brandon Webb. Also ahead of him in voting were Carpenter and San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, who had set the career record for saves. On September 18, while pitching to the Cincinnati Reds, Oswalt recorded his 1,000th strikeout, becoming the eighth player in Astros history to reach this milestone.

Before the 2007 season, Roy Oswalt received the 2nd highest Pitcher Player Value Ranking from Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview Edition. He was rated the best in the NL ahead of Brandon Webb and Chris Carpenter, and was only below the 2006 Triple Crown winner Johan Santana. On July 5, 2007 ESPNews reported that Oswalt would replace an injured John Smoltz on the National League All-star team, making it Oswalt's 3rd consecutive all-star game appearance. He did not pitch in the 2007 All-Star game, however. On August 13, 2007, Sports Illustrated named Roy Oswalt as one of the 5 pitchers (along with Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy, and Justin Verlander) in the Current Dream Team. On 26 September, 2007, it was reported that Oswalt was suffering from pain in his left side and it was decided to shut him down for the remainder of the season so as not to risk a more serious injury. He finished the 2007 season throwing 212 innings, his fourth consecutive year of 200 or more innings pitched, a 14-7 record, an ERA of 3.18 and 154 strikeouts. For the second straight year he has suffered from a bad bullpen, which has cost him three to four victories on the year.

Oswalt is one of only 7 ballplayers who pitched in the NL in 2007 who won at least 12 games in each year from 2004-07, the others being Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Jason Marquis, Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, and Jeff Suppan.

Although he started off the 2008 season slowly (0-3, 9.00 ERA), a solid second half helped Roy Oswalt reach his highest win total since 2005. Oswalt was able to accomplish this despite landing on the disabled list on July 19 for the first time since 2006. He also set an Astros team record with 32 1/3 scoreless innings. He finished the 2008 season throwing 208 2/3 innings, his fifth consecutive year of 200 or more innings pitched, a 17-10 record, an ERA of 3.54 and 165 strikeouts.

In 2009, Oswalt played for the United States in the World Baseball Classic appearing in two games. He was the winning pitcher in the contest versus the Netherlands, but was pulled from the semifinal against Japan in the fourth inning after giving up 6 runs.

Oswalt is known as one of the faster workers in baseball in terms of time between pitches. Despite his small frame, he is one of baseball's hardest hurlers, and frequently appears among the league leaders in Innings Pitched.

Oswalt throws four primary pitches. His fastball consistently between 92-94 miles per hour. Occasionally, it touches 95-97 mph. He throws two overhand curveballs: a hard snapping curve in the low 80s that is gripped with two forefingers over the seams and a looping slow curve of about 70 mph that is thrown with three fingers over the seams. Oswalt also throws a straight changeup in the low 80s, and a slider in the mid 80s. On occasion, Oswalt will mix a cut fastball or a two-seam fastball. Roy's pitching style emphasizes changes of speed and elevation.

Oswalt is currently considered to be among the elite pitchers in the National League. After completing eight years (2001-2008), Oswalt has compiled an 129-64 record with a 3.13 ERA and a 3.61 strikeout-to-walk ratio (1335 - to - 370) in 1622.0 innings pitched. He posted a 20-12 record in 2005 with a 2.94 ERA, repeating his 20-win performance of 2004. He was the ace of a Houston Astros staff that included Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. He is also a three-time All-Star. On August 29, 2006, Oswalt's 29th birthday, he signed a five year extension with the Houston Astros totaling $73 million with an option for a 6th year, although he has stated before that he plans to retire in 2011 at the conclusion of his contract without enacting the option for a 6th year.

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Albert Pujols

Pujols at the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

José Alberto Pujols Alcántara (pronounced ) (born January 16, 1980, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), (nicknamed Prince Albert, Sir Albert, Phat Albert, El Hombre, and The Machine ) is a Major League Baseball first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. He is widely regarded as one of the best players in the game today and was voted the Most Feared Hitter in Baseball in a poll of all 30 big-league managers in 2008.

As of the end of the 2008 season, he leads active players in batting average (.334) and slugging percentage (.624). In only his ninth season, he already ranks 93rd in career home runs among all current and past major-leaguers. On July 4, 2008, Pujols hit his 300th career home run, becoming the fifth-youngest player (28 yrs., 170 days) in MLB history to reach that milestone.

He is 6' 3" and weighs 230 pounds.

Born on January 16, 1980, Pujols was raised in Santo Domingo by his grandmother. When Pujols was a young boy, he showed his father Bienvenido's passion for baseball by going to dirt fields to play. He was very talented as well. His favorite player in the majors was Julio Franco. Pujols and his family immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1996, first to New York city. In the U.S., Pujols displayed his love for baseball, batting over .500 in his first season of baseball at Fort Osage High School in Independence, MO. He hit .660 with eight home runs his final year of high school. At Fort Osage, Pujols earned all-state honors in baseball twice. After starring for Fort Osage, Pujols graduated from high school in December 1998. He went on to attend Maple Woods Community College in the Kansas City area during the spring of 1999. In his only season with the community college, Pujols hit a grand slam and turned an unassisted triple play in his first game. He batted .461 for the year.

Few big league teams were very interested in Pujols. A Colorado Rockies scout reported favorably about the young hitter, but the club took no action. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays arranged a tryout for Pujols, but it went poorly (after the team did not draft him, the scout who had found Pujols resigned). The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Pujols in the 13th round of the 1999 draft with the 402nd overall pick. However, Pujols initially turned down a USD $10,000 bonus and opted to play in the Jayhawk League in Kansas instead. By the end of the summer of 1999, the Cardinals increased their bonus offer to $70,000, and Pujols signed with the team. He was assigned to the minor leagues.

In 2000, Pujols played for the Peoria Chiefs of the single-A Midwest League, where he was voted league MVP. Pujols quickly progressed through the ranks of the St. Louis farm clubs, first at the Potomac Cannons in the high-A Carolina League and then with the Memphis Redbirds in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League.

During spring training in 2001, the Cardinals were preparing for Pujols to be sent to Memphis, the team's AAA affiliate. However, his outstanding play, combined with Bobby Bonilla's hamstring injury (at the time the starting 3B for the Cardinals) allowed Pujols the opportunity to start the season for the big league St. Louis Cardinals.

In the season's second series, playing against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pujols hit a home run, three doubles and eight RBI, securing his spot on the team. In May, he was named National League Rookie of the Month. In June, he was named to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game by NL manager Bobby Valentine, the first Cardinal rookie selected since 1955. Pujols' phenomenal rookie season helped the Cardinals tie for the National League Central Division title. For the season, Pujols batted .329/.403/.610 with 37 home runs and 130 RBI, and was unanimously named the National League Rookie of the Year. His 37 home runs were one short of the National League rookie record of 38, held by Wally Berger of the Boston Braves and Frank Robinson of the 1956 Cincinnati Redlegs. His 130 RBI set an NL rookie record.

In 2002, Pujols struggled early on, but continued to bat extremely well throughout the season, hitting .314/.394/.561 with 34 homers and 127 RBI. The team finished first in the NL Central during a difficult 2002 season. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship series. Pujols finished second in the MVP voting behind Barry Bonds.

In the 2003 season, Pujols had one of the best individual offensive seasons in Cardinals history, batting .359/.439/.667 with 43 home runs and 124 RBI. He won the National League batting title while also leading the league in runs, hits, doubles, extra base hits and total bases. At 23, Pujols became the youngest NL batting champion since 1962 and joined Rogers Hornsby as the only players in Cardinals history to record 40+ homers and 200+ hits in the same season. The Cardinals, however, failed to make the playoffs, faltering in the stretch to the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Pujols finished second in the MVP voting to Barry Bonds for the second straight year and had a 30-game hitting streak.

Pujols started his major league career playing primarily as a third baseman. During his rookie season, he started at four different positions (1B, 3B, LF and RF), and has also appeared at 2B (late in the 2001 All-Star game as well as a regular season game in April 2008) and SS (late in one 2002 regular season game). When Scott Rolen joined the team in 2002, Pujols was moved to left field. Following an injury scare in 2003, Pujols was moved to his current position at first base.

Pujols signed a seven-year, $100 million contract extension with a $16 million club option for 2011 on February 20, 2004. He received a full no-trade clause for 2004–2006, and a limited no-trade clause for the remainder of the deal.

Throughout the year, Pujols was nagged by plantar fasciitis, but was still a powerful hitter, hitting .331/.415/.657 with 46 home runs and 123 RBI. Pujols, along with teammates Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen, earned the nickname MV3 for their phenomenal 2004 seasons. In addition, Pujols was chosen to appear on the cover of EA Sports' video game, MVP Baseball 2004. He was also the MVP of the 2004 National League Championship Series, helping his team reach the World Series, where they were swept by the Boston Red Sox.

The 2005 season saw Pujols establish career highs in walks and stolen bases, while leading his team in almost every offensive category. He finished batting .330/.430/.609, with 41 home runs (including his 200th career homer), 117 RBI, 97 walks, and 16 stolen bases (leading major league first basemen). His performance earned him the 2005 National League Most Valuable Player award.

In 2005, John Dewan noted in The Fielding Bible that no first baseman was better at digging balls out of the dirt than Pujols. Pujols saved 42 bad throws by his fielders in 2005 (Derrek Lee was second with 23). Pujols also shared the major league lead in errors for a first baseman, with 14.

Pujols set the record for the most home runs hit in the first month of the season, at 14, on April 29, 2006. The record was tied by Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees in 2007. On June 3, 2006, Pujols suffered an oblique strain chasing a foul pop fly off the bat of Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He was later placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career on June 4 – June 21, missing 15 games. Pujols, at the time of his injury, had 25 home runs and 65 RBI and was on pace to break the single-season records held by Barry Bonds (73 HRs) and Hack Wilson (191 RBI). He returned in time to help the Cardinals win the NL Central. He started at first base for the 2006 National League All-Star team. Pujols finished the season with a .331/.431/.671 line, establishing new career-highs in slugging percentage (in which he led the majors), home runs (49)(second) and RBIs (137) (second). In the 2006 National League MVP voting, he came in a close second to Ryan Howard, garnering 12 of 32 first-place votes.

After appearing in the playoffs with the Cardinals in four of his first five years in the big leagues but falling short each time, Pujols won his first championship ring when the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers four games to one.

Pujols' defensive improvements were recognized with the Gold Glove award. He had the highest range factor among first basemen in his two full seasons at the position, and led the National League in that category in 2006; emblematic was the sprawling, flip-from-his-back play Pujols made to rob Plácido Polanco of a hit in the 7th inning of Game 5 of the World Series.

Pujols had a slower start in the spring than in previous years due to several injuries in his right elbow. Following the All-Star Break, he hit four home runs in his first three games back. Pujols was also awarded the Player of the Week honors on July 15 after going 9-for-15 with a 1.357 slugging percentage and 19 total bases, all while batting .429.

He hit his 25th home run on August 15, making him the fifth player to hit 25 home runs in his first seven seasons in the major leagues, and the first since Darryl Strawberry. On August 22, he hit his 30th home run of the season, becoming the first major league player to hit at least 30 home runs in each of his first 7 seasons. It was his fifth consecutive game with a home run, tying the Cardinals' single-season record. He finished August batting .317, slugging .558 with 30 home runs and 84 runs batted in, while still sporting an excellent .416 on-base percentage despite his slower-than-usual start in April.

In a pre-game warmup on the field before a September 18 game at home, Pujols suffered a strained calf muscle in his left leg and was not able to start or appear later in the game. In September, he hit two home runs for a total of 32, the last one giving him 16 RBI for the month, and 100 RBI for the seventh consecutive year to become only the third player to accomplish the feat at the start of his career.

Pujols won the Fielding Bible Award in 2007 for his defensive excellence at first base.

Pujols reached another milestone early in the season when he hit his 300th career double in April 2008. For the month of April, he reached base safely (via hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch) in all 29 team games played, starting on April 1. His streak eventually reached 42 games, ending on May 16. It was the longest streak in baseball since Derek Jeter's 53-game streak in 1999.

On May 21, Pujols was involved in causing injuries to two players on the 2008 San Diego Padres within the same inning. In the third inning, he lined a pitch by Padres starting pitcher Chris Young into Young's face, breaking his nose and forcing him to leave the game. Later, as Pujols tried to score on a single by Troy Glaus, he slid into catcher Josh Bard, spraining Bard's ankle and forcing him to leave the game as well.

On June 10, Pujols strained his left-calf muscle and went on the 15-day disabled list for the second time in his eight-year career. He was re-activated on June 26 after missing 13 games.

On July 4, against the Chicago Cubs, Pujols hit his 300th career home run. He was the fifth youngest player to reach the mark.

On Monday, August 25, Albert won the NL Player of the Week award (Aug. 18–24) for the seventh time in his career after batting .579 (11-for-19) with a .652 on-base percentage, a 1.105 slugging percentage, and 10 RBIs.

Pujols had his 1,500th career hit on August 30 against the Houston Astros. On September 1, Pujols hit his 30th home run of the season off of Randy Johnson to start his career with eight consecutive 30 HR seasons, the first player to do so in MLB history.

Pujols hit his 100th RBI on Thursday, September 11 off Rich Harden (also Pujols' 40th double of the season) to become the first player in MLB history to start his career with eight seasons of at least 30 HR, 100 RBIs, a .300 BA and 99 runs. He also finished with a league-leading .296 Isolated Power (ISO) average.

On October 13, Pujols elected to have surgery on his troubled right elbow, "a procedure that included decompression and transposition of the ulnar nerve" but not the more invasive Tommy John surgery to relieve persistent pain. He has played through varying degrees of discomfort with it since 2003.

On October 21, Albert was named Players Choice National League Outstanding Player of the Year, beating out the other finalists, Chipper Jones (ATL), Ryan Braun (MIL), Manny Ramirez (LAD), and Ryan Howard (PHI). The Players Choice Awards are voted on by every member of the Major League Baseball Players Association (the players' union) and include several categories; Albert was NL Outstanding Rookie of the Year in 2001, both NL Outstanding Player and (overall) Player of the Year in 2003, and Marvin Miller Award winner (for "charitable accomplishments off the field") in 2006.

Three days later, on October 24, Albert was named Players Choice Player of the Year; the two other finalists were Cliff Lee (Cleveland Indians) and Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox-Los Angeles Dodgers). This is Albert's second Player of the Year Award, having also won in 2003; he joins Alex Rodriguez (2002, 2007) and Barry Bonds (2001, 2004) as two-time winners (this honor was added to the Players Choice Awards in 1998). This same day Michael Young of the Texas Rangers was announced as the Marvin Miller Man of the Year; this Players Choice award had one finalist from every MLB division, with Albert representing the NL Central.

On October 22, Albert had been named The Sporting News Player of the Year (not to be confused with the Players Choice Player of the Year award). Albert was also the SN Player of the Year in 2003.

On October 25, Albert was named the 2008 winner of the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award for the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual's contribution to his team.

On October 30, Albert won the Fielding Bible Award for defensive excellence at first base for the third consecutive year (2006-08). He is the only player to win this award all three years of its existence. Gold Gloves are voted on by MLB managers and coaches, but the Fielding Bible Awards are determined by a panel of 10 experts in advanced statistical analysis. Also, one Gold Glove is awarded for each position in each league (18 total), whereas one Fielding Bible Award is given each position, period (9 total). In announcing Albert's 2006 win, the award webpage noted, "It's amazing to think that the best hitter of this generation is also the best fielding player at his position." The 2008 vote was close, though, with 5 first-place votes going to Albert and 4 to Mark Teixeira (ATL-LAA).

On November 5, for the 3rd time in 4 years, Albert was named NL Most Valuable Player in the annual Internet Baseball Awards, a poll conducted by Baseball Prospectus. Albert "has received a higher average level of support from the voters than any other player in the history of the voting," finishing # 4, 4, 2, 2, 1, 1, 7, and 1 in his 8 major league seasons.

On November 13, Albert won his fourth Silver Slugger--being voted the top-producing NL first-baseman--having previously won one at each of three positions: 3B in 2001, OF in 2003, and 1B in 2004.

On November 17, Albert won his second NL MVP Award. The honor is given according to pre-playoff voting by 32 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, 2 in each of the 16 NL cities. Pujols received 18 first-place votes and 369 total points. Second in both categories, Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies snagged 12 firsts and 308 points. (Philly Brad Lidge got the 2 other firsts and came in eighth overall, behind Ryan Braun, Manny Ramirez, Lance Berkman, CC Sabathia, and David Wright.) Besides his 18 first-place votes, Pujols received 10 for second place, 2 for third place, 1 for fourth place, and 1 for seventh place. Albert was the 2005 NL MVP and has finished in the top nine in the BBWAA voting every year in his 8-year career: fourth in 2001, second in 2002, second again, third, first, second in 2006 (to Howard), ninth, and now first again.

On December 15, he won TYIB's 'Hitter of the Year' Award.

On February 15, he confirmed he would not play in the World Baseball Classic for his native Dominican Republic, because of insurance issues relating to his off-season right elbow surgery in October 2008.

On March 2, it was confirmed he decided not to participate in a Cardinals' exhibition game (March 5) against his native country Dominican Republic (Roster).

He hit his first home run (number 320 of his career), a monster 2-run shot over the left-field bullpen against Pittsburgh on April 7th at Busch Stadium. He scored his 950th career run later in the same game.

He earned his 700th career walk in the third game of the season on April 8th.

He tied his personal game high in RBIs in one game, hitting two home runs, including his seventh career grand slam against ace pitcher Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros, with seven runs batted in on April 11th, 2009, at Busch Stadium. It was also the 24th multi-home run game of his career.

He had his 25th multi-home run game of his career vs. the New York Mets on April 23rd.

On Saturday, April 25th, he hit his eighth career grand slam against the Chicago Cubs on Fox national television, giving him 1,002 RBIs, powering the Cardinals to a 8-2 win, and the Cardinals continue to lead the NL Central Division. He became the 260th player to reach the coveted 1,000 RBI mark after Carlos Beltran (New York Mets) did it the night before. He also became the 30th player in history to reach 1,000 RBIs before his 30th birthday and now ranks fifth among all Cardinals' players with his 1,002 RBIs, passing Ken Boyer. After the April 25th game, Pujols leads MLB with 25 RBI. He also leads the NL with 7 homeruns, 20 runs scored, 48 total bases, 5 intentional walks, .727 slugging percentage, 1.178 OPS, 201 OPS+, and 13.6 runs runs Value Over the average Replacement Player. His grand slam was his 38th career home run against the Cubs, more than against any other team.

Pujols married his wife, Deidre, on January 1, 2000. They have three children, Isabella (Deidre's daughter, adopted by Albert), Albert Jr., and Sophia. Albert and his wife are active in the cause of people with Down syndrome, as Isabella was born with this condition. He has taken part-ownership in Patrick's Restaurant in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The remodeled restaurant was re-opened as Pujols 5 on August 30, 2006.

Pujols is close friends with second baseman Plácido Polanco, a former teammate with the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols is godfather to Polanco's 3-year-old son, Ismael. Polanco played for the 2006 Detroit Tigers team that lost to the Cardinals in the 2006 World Series.

On February 7, 2007, Pujols became a U.S. citizen, scoring a perfect 100 on his citizenship test.

On April 24, 2007, Upper Deck Authenticated announced it had signed Pujols to an exclusive autographed memorabilia agreement.

On November 18, 2008, Pujols agreed to help bring a MLS franchise to St. Louis by using his reputation and a large financial investment.

In 2005, Albert and Diedre Pujols launched the Pujols Family Foundation, which is dedicated to "the love, care and development of people with Down syndrome and their families," as well as helping the poor in the Dominican Republic. Pujols has taken several trips to the Dominican, by taking supplies as well as a team of doctors and dentists to the poor who need medical care. The Pujols Family Foundation also holds an annual golf tournament in which members from the Cardinals and other people play golf to raise money to send dentists to the Dominican Republic.

Roll over stat abbreviations for definitions. Stats through April 26, 2009.

Roll over stat abbreviations for definitions. Stats through 2008.

YEAR (bold) = Selected as Starter * Was selected, but did not play in the game.

Roll over stat abbreviations for definitions. Stats through 2008.

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Houston Astros

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The Houston Astros are a professional baseball team based in Houston, Texas. The Astros are a member of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League. From 2000 to the present, the Astros have played their home games at Minute Maid Park. The Astros joined MLB under the name Colt .45s along with the New York Mets in 1962. The Astros' current owner is Drayton McLane, Jr.

The Astros have had one World Series appearance in their history, losing in 2005 against the Chicago White Sox. They have made the postseason eight times (4 as Central Division champs, 2 as Western Division champs, and twice as the wild card).

Prior to Major League Baseball expansion Houston's connection to MLB was the Houston Buffaloes or Buffs. The Buffs were the minor league team for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1921–1958.

Houston had been making efforts to bring a Major League franchise to the city before the expansion in 1962. There were four men chiefly responsible for bringing Major League Baseball to Houston: George Kirksey and Craig Cullinan, who had led a futile attempt to purchase the St. Louis Cardinals in 1952; R.E. "Bob" Smith, a prominent oilman and real estate magnate in Houston who was brought in for his financial resources; and Judge Roy Hofheinz, a former Mayor of Houston and Harris County Judge who was recruited for his salesmanship and political style. They formed the Houston Sports Association as their vehicle for attaining a big league franchise for the city of Houston.

Given Major League Baseball's refusal to consider expanding, Kirksey, Cullinan, Smith, and Hofheinz joined forces with would-be owners from other cities and announced the formation of a new league to compete with the established National and American Leagues. They called the new league the Continental League. Wanting to protect potential new markets, both existing leagues chose to expand from eight teams to ten. Houston won a franchise in the National League to begin play in 1962. The Continental League folded before it ever started. But if its real object was to secure Houston a Major League franchise, it clearly succeeded.

The new Houston team was named the Colt .45s after a "Name The Team" contest was held. The name "Colt .45s" won out, as the Colt .45 was well-known as "the gun that won the west." The colors selected were navy blue and orange. The first team was a collection of cast-offs culled mostly through an expansion draft held after the 1961 season. The Colt .45s and the other expansion team the New York Mets, took turns choosing players left unprotected by the other National League franchises.

The Colt .45s would play ball at Colt Stadium. Colt Stadium however was just a temporary field until Judge Hofheinz could build his indoor stadium. Hofheinz had convinced the National League owners that the sweltering Houston summers would not be a problem as he would build an indoor baseball stadium based loosely on the Coliseum in Rome. Bonds were passed and construction began but, until it was ready, the team played on some reclaimed marshland south of town. Colt Stadium was built on the same land that would eventually hold its famous successor. It was built on the cheap with little to protect fans from the weather or other hazards. True baseball fans hardly cared. Houston had become a "major league" city.

The Colt .45s started their inaugural season on April 10, 1962 against the Chicago Cubs. Harry Craft was named Houston's first manager. The Colt .45s finished eighth among the National League's ten teams. To get an idea of how the first season was for Houston, look at the team's best pitcher, Richard "Turk" Farrell. A starter for the Colt .45s, he was primarily a relief pitcher when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. Turk lost 20 games in 1962, but had an ERA of 3.02. Turk was selected to both All-Star games that year.

There was a bright spot in the line up in 1962. Román Mejías, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the expansion draft, was named the Colt .45s starting right fielder. It was in Houston that Mejías would play the best season of his career. While he played better the first half of the season, an injury slowed him the second half of the season. However he still finished with a .286 batting average, 24 home runs, and 76 RBIs. His modesty and his hard play made him a fan favorite that year. Despite his good year Mejías was traded to the Boston Red Sox in the fall of 1962.

1963 saw more young talent mixed with seasoned veterans. Jimmy Wynn, Rusty Staub, and Joe Morgan all made their major league debuts in the 1963 season. Still, the results in the win–lose department did not change much. In fact, the Colt .45s finished in ninth place with a 66–96 record. The team was still building, trying to find that perfect mix to compete. Craft had plenty of rookies to play and on September 27 he fielded an all rookie team versus the New York Mets. Houston lost 10–3 but it was a glimpse of what was to come in the next few seasons.

The 1964 campaign began on a sad note. Pitcher Jim Umbricht died of cancer just before opening day. Umbricht was the only Colt .45s pitcher to post winning records in the Colt .45s first two seasons. So well liked by players and fans the Colt .45 retired his Jersey number 32 in 1965. Umbricht was 33 years old. On the field the 1964 Colt .45s got off to a quick start, but it would not last. Manager Harry Craft was fired presumably for wanting to play more experienced players, while the front office wanted to showcase the young up and coming talent. Craft was replaced by one of the Colt .45s coaches, Luman Harris. Some of that up and coming talent the front office wanted to showcase was a young pitcher by the name of Larry Dierker. He started versus the San Francisco Giants on his eighteenth birthday. He lost the game but it was the beginning of a long relationship with the Houston organization.

Just on the horizon the structure of the new domed stadium was more prevalent and the way baseball was watched in Houston, and around the league, was about to change.

With Judge Roy Hofheinz now the sole owner of the franchise and his vision of a domed stadium to play ball indoors complete, the Colt .45s moved into their new domed stadium in 1965. The judge called the new domed stadium the Astrodome. The name was in honor of Houston's importance to the country's space program and to match with the meaning of the name, the Colt .45s were renamed the Astros. The new park, coined as the "Eighth Wonder of the World" did little to help the play on the field. While several "indoor" firsts were accomplished, the team still finished ninth in the standings. The attendance was high not because of the team accomplishments, but because people came from miles around to see the Astrodome.

Just as the excitement was settling down over the Astrodome, the 1966 season found something new to put the domed stadium in the spotlight once again; the field. Grass would not grow in the new park, since the roof panels had been painted to reduce the glare that was causing players on both the Astros and the visiting team to miss routine pop flies. A new artificial turf was created called "AstroTurf" and once again Houston would be involved in yet another change in the way the game was played.

With new manager Grady Hatton the Astros got hot right away. By May they were in second place in the National League and looked like a team that could contend. Joe Morgan and Sonny Jackson appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, an Astros first, and Morgan was named as a starter on the All-Star Team. The Astros cooled as quickly as they got hot. They lost Jimmy Wynn for the season after he crashed into an outfield fence in Philadelphia and Morgan had broken his knee cap. There were some good notes however. Sonny Jackson set a league record with 49 steals, and led the Astros with a .292 batting average. The Astros were a young team full of talent that was not yet refined and the inconsistencies of their youth was viewed on the field.

1967 saw third baseman Eddie Mathews join the Astros. Mathews, however, would play first base. The slugger hit his 500th home run while in Houston. He would be traded late in the season and Doug Rader would be promoted to the big leagues. Rookie Don Wilson pitched a no hitter on June 18th, Fathers Day, against the Braves. It was the first no hit, shut out, pitched in team history and in the Astrodome. Jimmy Wynn also provided some enthusiasm in 1967. The 5 ft 9 in Wynn was becoming known not only for how often he hit home runs, but for the distance of the home runs. Wynn set club records with 37 home runs, and 107 RBIs He also had a pinch hit single in the All-Star game that year; another Astros first. As the season came to a close the Astros found themselves once again in ninth place and a winning percentage below .500. The team looked good on paper, but could not seem to make it work on the field.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination delayed the start to the 1968 season. When Robert F. Kennedy was killed two months later, Major League Baseball let teams decide if they would postpone games or not. Astros management decided to not postpone games. Rusty Staub and Bob Aspromonte sat out in protest. Both were traded at season's end.

April 15 saw a pitching duel that was on for the ages. Mets pitcher Tom Seaver and Don Wilson faced each other in a pitching duel that lasted six hours. Seaver went ten frames allowing no walks and just two hits. Wilson went nine innings and allowed five hits and three walks. After the starters pitched eleven relievers, seven for the New York Mets and four for the Astros tried to end the game. The game finally ended when Aspromonte hit a shot toward Mets shortstop Al Weis. Weis had been perfect all night at short, but he was not the same player he was six hours earlier. Weis was not quick enough to make the play and the ball zipped into left field allowing Norm Miller to score. Houston hosted the All-Star game in 1968 and as expected in the "Year of the Pitcher" the game was a low scoring match that saw the National league winning 1–0. Grady Hatton was fired as manager on June 18 and Harry Walker replaced him. Walker had been fired from Pittsburgh the year before The Astros ended the season in last place.

With baseball expansion and trades the Astros had dramatically changed in 1969. Gone were Aspromonte, Cuellar, and Staub, just to name a few. Added to the team were catcher Johnny Edwards, outfielder Jesus Alou, infielder Denis Menke and pitcher Dave Lemaster. Who would help the Astros finish better than they had since they started playing ball in 1962. Wilson continued pitching great and on May 1 threw the second no hitter of his career. He was just 24 years of age and was second to only Sandy Koufax for career no hit wins. Wilson's no hitter lit the Astros' fire and six days later the Astros tied a major league record by turning seven double plays. By May's end the Astros had put together a ten game winning streak. The Astros infield tandem of Menke and Joe Morgan continued to improve and provided power at the plate and great defense. Morgan had 15 homers and stole 49 bases while Menke led the Astros with 90 RBIs. The Menke/Morgam punch was beginning to come alive.

On September 10, the Astros were tied for fourth and only two games out of first, but fell to the Atlanta Braves three days later. Larry Dierker had no hit the Braves and was one out away from ending it when Felix Millan broke it up with a single. The Astros scored two runs in the thirteenth, but ex-teammates Aspromonte and Jackson led a three-run Braves comeback. It seemed to be the turning point for the Astros as they slid into fifth place and Atlanta went on to win the division. The series against the Braves gave the Astros, and the fans, a taste of a race. It was also the first time in the team's history that they did not finish the season below .500. 1969 saw both the 1962 expansion teams improve, but it was the New York Mets that climbed to the top winning the World Series.

In 1970 the Astros were expected to be a serious threat in the National League West. The year started with a bang when Doug Rader clobbered a shot into the upper reserve (gold) seats in left field during an exhibition game on April 3rd. Nine days later Jimmy Wynn knocked one into the purple seats (just below the gold) proving that the unreachable area of the dome was reachable. The seats were repainted marking this feat. No other Astro ever hit a home run into that part of the Astrodome.

In June, 19-year-old Cesar Cedeno was called up and immediately showed signs of being a superstar. The Dominican outfielder was often compared to Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente. Cedeno batted .310 after being called up from the minors. Not to be outdone Denis Menke batted .304 and Jesus Alou batted .306. The Astros' batting average was up by 19 points compared to the season before. The team looked good, but the Astros' ERA was up. Larry Dierker and Don Wilson had winning records, but the pitching staff as a whole had an off season. Houston finish in fourth place in 1970 and saw the Reds take the division title, something that would become common in the 1970s.

The fashion trends of the 1960s had started taking root in baseball. Long hair and loud colors were starting to appear on teams uniforms, including the Astros. In 1971 the Astros made some changes to their uniform: they kept the same style they had in previous seasons, but inverted the colors. What was navy blue was now orange and what was orange was now a lighter shade of blue. The players last names were added to the back of the jerseys. The uniform fabric was also changed to what was at the time revolutionizing the industry – polyester. Belts were replaced by elastic waistbands and jerseys zipped up instead of buttons. The uniforms became popular with fans but would only last for four season. The Astros would shock baseball and the fashion world four years later.

The uniforms were about the only thing that did change in 1971. That and the acquisition of Roger Metzger from the Chicago Cubs in the off-season. This moved Menke to first base and Bob Watson to the outfield. The Astros got off to a slow start and the pitching and hitting averages were down. Larry Dierker was selected to the All-Star game in 1971, but due to an arm injury he could not make it. Don Wilson took his place and pitched two scoreless innings. Cesar Cedeno led the club with 81 RBIs and the league with 40 doubles, but batted just .264 and had 102 strikeouts in his second season with the Astros. J.R. Richard made his debut in September of the 1971 season against the Giants. The 6 ft 8 in Richard struck out 15 to tie the debut record of Karl Spooner set in 1954. Richards won the game 5–3. The city of Houston saw they had the talent for a winning team and were growing tired of finishing in the middle of the pack. The Astros were about to pull off on of the most controversial trades in team history in the off season.

In November 1971 The Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds made a blockbuster trade that was one of the most impactful in the history of the sport, and helped create The Big Red Machine of the 1970s, with the Reds getting the better end of the deal. The Astros sent second baseman Joe Morgan, infielder Denis Menke, pitcher Jack Billingham, and outfielders Cesar Geronimo and prospect Ed Armbrister to Cincinnati for first baseman Lee May, second baseman Tommy Helms and infielder Jim Stewart. The trade left Astros fans and the baseball world scratching their heads as to why Astros General Manager Spec Richardson would give up so much for so little. May and Helms were good talents but both had obvious weaknesses. The Reds on the other hand would shore up many problems. They had an off year in 1971, but were the National League Pennant winner in 1970. They had plenty of power at the plate in Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and Lee May. The problem was they were all right handed batters and two of the three were first basemen. Three sluggers batting in a row in the middle of the Reds line up caused issues. The first left them vulnerable to right handed pitching. Next, there was the problem of double play balls killing a rally. Finally, Perez, a first basemen, was placed at third in order to have both May and Perez in the line-up. Perez at Third caused a fielding weakness. Now with Denis Menke, a proven veteran that could play third, Perez could move to first, thus strengthening the left side of the field. They Also got the 6 ft 4 in Billigham, who was just entering his prime as a pitcher and would go on to help lead the Big Red Machine to back to back World Series in 1975 and 1976. The deal turned out to be more than just Morgan for May, but Morgan turning out to be a great second baseman for the Astros, to a second baseman that would turn out to be an all-time great just made the deal that much better for the Reds.

Lee May added more power to the lineup in 1972. An All-Star in 1970 and 1971 May return to the All-Star game in 1972 this time as an Astro. May, Wynn, Rader and Cedeno all had 20 or more home runs and Watson hit 16. Cedeno also lead the Astros with a .320 batting average, 55 stolen bases and made spectacular plays on the field. Cedeno made his first All-Star game in 1972 and became the first Astros in team history to hit for the cycle in August versus the Reds.

Houston lead the league with 708 runs and were playing the first winning season in team history, but the Reds were hot and pulling away fast. Despite having a winning season, the Astros fired manager Harry Walker and replace him with Leo Durocher. The skipper of the 1951 New York Giants had his best seasons behind him and the Astros finish 16–15 with Durocher as manager. Still, it was the best season the Astros had to date with a strike shortened season at 84–69. A distant second to the Cincinnati Reds. It would be as close as they would get to winning a title for several more season.

Astros fans had hoped for more of the same in 1973 as they had in 1972, but it was not to be. The Astros run production was down to the season before even though the same five sluggers the year before were still punching the ball out of the park. Lee May lead the Astros with 28 home runs and Cesar Cedeno batted .320 with 25 home runs. Bob Watson hit the .312 mark and drove in 94 runs. Doug Rader and Jimmy Wynn both had 20 or more home runs. Wynn's 20 came despite a season long slump.

Where the Astros were hurting was in their pitching. Larry Dierker and Tom Griffin sat out for long periods of time due to injuries and Don Wilson had a bad year and spent time in the bullpen. Pitchers Dave Roberts and Jerry Russ did manage to win 16 or more games each, with little help from the bullpen. The Astros bullpen was in bad shape with nobody having more than six saves.

Leo Durocher decided to retire at seasons end after taking ill in mid season. Durocher took the Astros to an 82–80 finish and the Astros finished in fourth place.

The Astros didn't fair much better in 1974, but did finish with a .500 average under new manager Preston Gomez. The Astros again finish in fourth place in the National League West. The Astros were in need of rebuilding both on and off the field. Owner Roy Hofheinz empire was beginning to fall apart and he would soon have to sell. The Astrodomain had accumulated a $38 million debt and the Judge, due to illness, was in no position to try and rebuild. 1975 would see many new changes in the Astros system.

With the $38 million debit of the Astrodomain, control was passed from Judge Roy Hofheinz to GE Credit and Ford Motor Credit. This included the Astros. 1975 proved to be a bad year for the Astros. The creditors were just interested in preserving asset value of the team so any money spent management had to find or save somewhere else. Tal Smith returned to the Astros from the New York Yankees to a team that needed a lot of work and did not have a lot of money. However there would be some bright spots that would prove to be good investments in the near future.

The year started on a sad note. Pitcher Don Wilson was found dead in the passenger seat of his car on January 5, 1975. Cause of death was asphyxiation by carbon monoxide. Wilson was 29 years old. Wilson's 5-year-old son Alex also died as his room was connected to the garage. Wilson's number was retired on April 13, 1975.

The 1975 season was the introduction of the Astros new-look uniforms. Many teams were going away from the traditional uniform and the Astros were no exception. The uniforms had multishade stripes of orange, red and yellow in front and in back behind a large dark blue star over the midsection. The same stripes run down the paint legs. Players numbers not only appeared on the back of the jersey, but also on the pant leg. The bright stripes were meant to appear as a fiery trail like a rocket sweeping across the heavens. The uniforms were panned by the critics, but the public liked them and versions started appearing at the high school and little league level. The uniform was so different from what other teams wore that the Astros wore it both at home and on the road until 1980.

Besides the bright new uniforms there were some other changes. Lee May was traded to Baltimore for much talked about rookie second baseman Rob Andrews and utility player Enos Cabell. Cabell, played primarily behind Baltimore third baseman Brooks Robinson when he arrived in Houston he took advantage of his opportunity and became the everyday third baseman for Houston. Cabell would go on to become a big part of the teams success in later years. Bob Watson moved to first base with May gone and was a bright spot in the line up batting .324 and 85 RBIs.

The two biggest moves the Astros did in the off season were the acquisition of Joe Niekro and José Cruz. The Astros bought Niekro from the Braves for almost nothing. Niekro had bounced around the big leagues with minimal success. His older brother Phil Niekro had started teaching Joe how to throw his knuckleball and Joe was just starting to use it when he came to the Astros. Niekro won six games and saved four and had an ERA of 3.07.

José Cruz was also a steal, in retrospect, from the Cardinals. The Cards were in a position where they had too many outfielders and Cruz was having a hard time breaking in. He showed promise in 1973, but only had a batting average of .227. Not wanting to give up on Cruz he was given the chance to prove himself again 1974. Cruz improved but lost his job to rookie Bake McBride. He was sold to the Astros for 25,000. Cruz's role in Astros history would go on to see his number retired as an Astro.

The 1975 season was the worst the team had ever seen in their history. Their record was 64–97, far worse than the expansion Colt .45's. It was the worst record in baseball and manager Preston Gomez was fired late in the season and replaced by Bill Virdon. Virdon had managed the Yankees and Pirates before joining Houston. The Astros played .500 ball under Virdon in the last 34 games of the season.

With Bill Virdon as the manager the Astros improved greatly in 1976 finishing in third place with a 80–82 record. A healthy Cesar Cedeno was a key reason for the Astros bouncing back in 1976. Bob Watson continued to show consistency and led the club with a .313 average and 102 RBIs. José Cruz became Houston's everyday left fielder and hit .303 with 28 stolen bases.

1976 saw the end of Larry Dierker's career as an Astro, but before it was all over he would throw a no-hitter and win the 1,000 game in the Astrodome. He was dealt to St Louis in the off-season, but would return to Houston and be a big part of the organization.

The Astros finished in third place again in 1977 with a record improved at just one more win than the season before at 81–81. The Astros were still in need of consistent players at key positions. The middle infield was a trouble spot that saw different player playing second and short on any given night. One such player was Art Howe. Howe who almost gave up on baseball before getting a chance in Houston was willing to play anywhere just to get playing time. Howe would hit .264 with 58 RBIs while playing at second, short, and third. Howe, like Larry Dierker would also become part of the Astros future.

While J.R. Richard, Joe Niekro and Joaquin Andujar had winning seasons the pitching was still in need of help. The Astros did not have a dominant lefty in the rotation. Floyd Bannister was thought to be that dominant lefty, but the rookie pitcher inconsistent and was 8–9 with an ERA of 4.03. It would be a long time before the Astros had a dominant left hand pitcher.

One of the big problems the Astros had was they were unable to compete in the free agent market. Ford Motor Credit Company was still in control of the team and was looking to sell the Astros, but they were not going to spend money on better players. Most of the talent the Astros had was either farm grown or bought on the cheap. 1978 saw the Astros slip to fifth place with a 74–88 record.

While money issues hurt the Astros so did injuries. Cedeno was out most of the season due to a knee injury and Howe dealt with a broken finger. José Cruz really started to shine as an Astros and led the team with a .315 average with 83 RBIs and 37 steals. J.R. Richard was the only Astros pitch that had a stellar year. He threw two shut games, back to back, in May, had 303 strike out for the season and won 18.

It may have been an off year for the Astros, but they were building for the future. Players like Denny Walling and Rafael Landestoy were proving to be talented reserves. The starting pitching was looking good with J.R. Richard, Ken Forsch and Joe Niekro. And relief pitcher Joe Sambito was settling in as the closer. The foundation was being laid for making a serious ran at winning their first pennant.

1979 would prove to be a big turn around in Astros history and during the off season the Astros made an effort to fix some of their problem areas. They traded Floyd Bannister to Seattle for shortstop Craig Reynolds and acquired catcher Alan Ashby from Toronto for pitcher Mark Lemongello. Reynolds and Ashby were both solid in their positions and gave Houston a much needed fix.

The 1979 season started with a huge boost from pitcher Ken Forsch, who no-hit the Braves on the second game of the season. This would only be the beginning of the excitement that was to come in 1979.

Houston also learned in May that Dr. John McMullen had agreed to buy the Astros. Now with an owner and not Ford Motor Credit in charge the Astros would be able to compete in the free agent market.

In July, the Astros went to Cincinnati leading the National League West, something the Reds were accustomed to doing. July 4th fireworks erupted when, tired of the Reds taunting pitcher Joaquin Andujar, a fight broke out involving Cesar Cedeno and Ray Knight. Houston went on to win the game and had a ten-game lead in the NL west. But holding on to the lead would prove to be a challenge for the Astros who now felt the pressure of being on top of the division.

The other team that was not too happy seeing the Astros on top in the west was the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers had challenged and won the division over the Big Red Machine and won the division in 1977 and 1978. At the end of July the Dodgers came to the Astrodome to play in a game that saw Forsch give up only three hits to the Dodgers. The game turn out to be more than an outstanding pitching performance by Forsch. The Dodgers taunted Cedeno causing the aggregated Cedeno to throw a hard fastball in the Dodgers dugout. Later that inning Enos Cabell was hit by a pitch and this time the benches did empty. Houston's lead in the division was shrinking and the heat of the Houston summer was only matched by the Astros tempers.

The Astros were playing great ball. José Cruz and Enos Cabell both stole 30 bases. Joe Niekro had a great year with 21 wins and 3.00 ERA. J.R. Richard won 18 games and set a new personal strikeout record at 313. Joe Sambito came into his own with 22 saves as the Astros closer. Things were going as they should for a team that could win the west.

The Astros and Reds battled the final month of the season. The Reds pulled ahead of the Astros by a game and a half. Later that month they split a pair and the Reds kept the lead. And that would be how it would end. The Astros finished with their best record to that point at 89–73 and 1½ games behind the NL winner Reds. The Astros proved they were contenders and they were ready to show Major League Baseball how serious a contender they were.

With Dr. John McMullen as sole owner of the Astros the team would now benefit in ways a corporation could not give them. The rumors of the Astros moving out of Houston, which started when Judge Roy Hofheinz Astrodomain started to crumble, had been stopped and the Astros were now able to compete in the free agent market. Something GE Credit and Ford Motor Credit were not able or willing to do. McMullen showed the city of Houston that he too wanted a winning team by signing near by Alvin, Texas native to the first million dollar a year deal. Ryan had four no-hitters and struck out 383 in one season. Win or lose Ryan would fill the seats.

Joe Morgan returned to the Astros in 1980. When Morgan left Houston he was a good player that became a great player with the Reds. Morgan had always regretted leaving the Astros but his destiny was with the Reds. Now back in Houston, his two MVP awards and three World Series rings with him; Morgan wanted to help make the Astros a pennant winner.

1980 saw one of the best pitching line ups the Astros ever had. Ryan with his fastball, Joe Niekro with his knuckle ball that frustrated hitters and J.R. Richard with his imposing 6 ft 8 in frame and terrifying pitches. Teams felt lucky to face Ken Forsch who was a double digit game winner in the previous two seasons. Richard became the first Astros pitcher to start an All-Star game. He pitched two inning striking out three, including Reggie Jackson. Three days later after a medical examination Richard was told to rest his arm. During a work out in the Astrodome on July 30th Richard collapsed. He had suffered a stroke and was taken to the hospital. A blood clot that had made his arm feel tired had moved to his neck and cut off blood flow to the brain. Surgery was done to save his life. The Astros had lost their ace pitcher after a 10–4 start with a stingy 1.89 ERA. Although he attempted to come back, Richard would never again pitch a big league game.

The loss of J.R. Richard hit the Astros hard and the team had a hard time scoring runs. The Astros slipped to third place in the division behind the Dodgers and the Reds, the Astros bounced back with a ten game winning streak that put the team back in first place in the division. The Dodgers regained the lead by two games as they came to Houston on September 9. The Astros showed the Dodgers how serious they were by winning the first two games of the series to put both clubs tied for first in the division. By seasons end the Astros held a three game lead over the Dodgers with three games left in the season against the Dodgers. The Dodgers swept all three games thus making the two teams have to square off in a one game playoff the next day to see who would be division champ.

The Astros season had come down to a one game playoff in L.A.. The Astros had faced the Dodgers three best pitchers the three previous days and would now face Dave Goltz who held the hopes of the Dodgers in his hand. The Astros would make the most of facing Goltz. Terry Puhl scored on a fielders choice in the first to give the Astros a 2–0 early lead. In the third Art Howe knocked one out to give the Astros a 4–0 lead. Howe would deliver the final blow to the Dodgers in the fourth to give the Astros 7. The frustrated Dodgers showed third discontent when Ashby, trying to score more another run for the Astros, slid into home where Joe Ferguson, who did not hold the ball when Puhl scored, was waiting with ball in hand to tag Ashby out. He then gave Ashby a knee to the ribs causing a benches to clear. The Dodger faithful began tossing food at the Astros players and on the field forcing the game to be stopped until order was restored. The Astros went on to clinch the division for the first time in team history. While excited by the victory the team would have to fly cross country to face the Phillies the next day for game one of the NLCS.

The Astros had a coast-to-coast flight lasting six hours the night before game one of the NLCS and had to face Steve Carlton who had beat the Astros six straight times. With that said the experts gave the Phillies the edge in beating the Astros in game one of the NLCS. The Phillies would win game one, but the Astros did not make it easy. The Astros went up 1 – 0 in the third and Astros pitcher Ken Borsch, who gave up four hits in the first three innings, settled down retiring the side 1-2-3 in the fourth and fifth innings. Pete Rose reached on an infield-hit inn the sixth, but Forsch went right back to work retiring the next two batters. Then Greg Luzinski stepped up to the plate. Luzinski worked Forsch to a full counted, fouled of the next pitch and then sent a bomb to 300 level seats of Veterans Stadium for a two run homer. The Phillies added an insurance run in the next inning when Garry Maddox stole third and ex-Astro Greg Gross looped a single to left allowing Muddox to score. Tug McGraw came in for the eighth inning and the Astros went three up, three down. Luis Puxols was able to work McGraw for a walk in the ninth, but that would be all the Astros would get from him as McGraw retired the next three batters leading the Phillies to a 3 – 1 and one game up in the series.

Nolan Ryan would get the call in game two of the NLCS to go against Dick Ruthven. The first two innings were scoreless. Craig Reynolds scored on a Terry Puhl single in the third to give Houston the lead, but the Phillies came right back in the fourth when Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski hit back-to-back doubles and then Maddox singled scoring Luzinski. The Astros tied it in the seventh when Phul doubled and brought Ryan home following a walk to the Houston pitcher. The Phillies threatened in the bottom of the seventh when Larry Bowa and Bob Boone singled and then advanced on a Gross sacrifice bunt. Lefty Joe Sambito was called in to relieve Ryan and walked Rose to load the bases. Sambito struck out Bake McBride and was pulled in favor of the right-handed Dave Smith who promptly struck out Schmidt to end the inning with the bases full of Phillies. Each team would score in the eighth to tie the game and both teams would go scoreless in the ninth to send the game to extra innings. Phul had his third hit in the tenth and moved to second on a Enos Cabell sacrifice. After an intentional walk to Morgan, José Cruz singled home Phul to give the Astros the lead. A Bake McBride error advanced the runners. Cedeno’s grounder scored pinch runner Rafael Landestoy with the second run of the inning. Dave Bergman who was a defensive replacement for Art Howe in the eighth hit a triple off Phillies reliever Kevin Saucier to give Houston a 7 – 3 lead in the middle of the tenth. The Phillies were able to score one run in the bottom of the tenth but Joaquin Andujar was able to end the game by getting Schmidt to fly out to Phul for the final out. The Astros were feeling good about their chances as the final three games moved to Houston.

Game three of the 1980 NLCS was a classic pitching duel and somewhat typical of the Astrodome. The Astrodome was a pitchers park and the Astros teams of the time were built on good pitching, solid defense and geared to stealing bases and scrapping out runs. If the Astros could score just one run, their chances of beating the other team were good. Thus was the case when Joe Niekro got the call in game three facing Larry Christenson of the Phillies. Both teams went scoreless through nine innings. Christenson would pitch six good innings for the Phillies, but Niekro would go ten. Dave Smith came out in the eleventh to hold the Phillies back. Tug McGraw who had entered the game in the eighth faced Morgan in the bottom of the eleventh who had a lead off tripled over McBride to start the inning. Manager Bill Virdon would replace Morgan with Landestoy to pinch run. Denny Walling gave Houston a 2 – 1 series lead when he hit a fly ball, scoring Landestoy. The Astros won the game, but not without paying a hefty price. In the sixth inning Cesar Cedeno was lost for the remainder of the playoffs when he dislocated his ankle trying to beat out a double-play ball. In addition Morgan was infuriated with Virdon for pulling him for pinch runner Landestoy creating a personal rift that would result in Morgan leaving the Astros at seasons end. , .

Game four of the series proved to be just as exhilarating as the previous three games. Again fans saw a hard fought game go into extra innings with the Phillies taking the lead and the win in the tenth inning. With the game tied in the tenth Pete Rose started a rally with a one-out single. Schmidt flied out for the second out and Luzinski step up to the plate pinch-hitting for McBride. Luzinski doubled off the left field wall in left and Rose rounded third never intending to hold up. Cruz relayed to Landestoy who threw to catcher Bruce Bochy. Rose then bowled over Bochy to score the winning run. The Phillies then got an insurance run to take the lead 5 – 3 and tie the series. It was then Ryan versus Rose.

Rookie Phillies pitcher Marty Bystrom was sent out by Philadelphia manager Dallas Green to face veteran Nolan Ryan. The rookie gave up a run in the first inning but then held the Astros at bay until the sixth inning. The Astros lead did not last long as Bob Boone hit a two out single giving the Phillies the lead in the second. The Astros tied the game in the sixth with a Alan Ashby single that brought home Denny Walling. Houston took a 5 – 2 lead in the seventh, but the Phillies came back in the eighth with a single by Larry Bowa, a ground ball that Ryan was not able to handle thus killing a chance for a double play, then a textbook but by Greg Gross to load the bases. Ryan had pitch great ball in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings striking out six and holding the Phillies to just the two runs they had scored in the second. Now it was Ryan versus Rose. With the count 3 – 2, Rose fouled on off. Ryan then threw a costly ball four that allowed Bowa to score. Rose had won the battle and Ryan was pulled for Joe Sambito. The Phillies scored on a force at second leaving men on the corners and one out. Ken Forsch was brought in my Astros manager Bill Virdon to face Schmidt. Forsch struck out Schmidt for the second out of the inning. Forsch gave up a single letting another run score to tie the game 5 – 5. Manny Trillo the shocked the Astros and their fans when he tripled to left scoring two runs and giving the Phillies a 7 – 5 lead. The Astros came back in the eighth to rough up Tug McGraw for four single and two runs that were scored with two-outs. With the game tied 7 – 7 the two teams went to extra innings for the fourth straight game. The winner would advance to the World Series. Gary Maddox had the hit of his career when he doubled in Del Unser with one out to give the Phillies an 8 – 7 lead. That would be all they needed as the Astros failed to score in the bottom of the tenth.

1981 was the year of the player strike that started on June 12 and ended on August 10. The strike may have helped the Astros get into the playoffs as Major league baseball decided to take the winners of each “half” seasons and set up a best of five divisional playoff. While the Reds won more games than any other team in the National League, they did not win either “half” of the strike seasons division play. The Astros finished 61-49 overall. If the two halves made one complete season, the Astros would have finished third that year behind the Reds and the Dodgers. This flaw allowed Houston its chance in the post season. The Astros had won the west the year, but that was not to happen. Injuries and age worked against the Astros. They made several trades, some good and some not so good, trying to get back the dominate team they were in 1980. Joe Morgan left the team for the Giants and the Astros sent Enos Cabell to the Giants for left-handed pitcher Bob Knepper. With plenty of pitching the Astros sent Ken Forsch to the Angels for infielder Dickie Thon. , Nolan Ryan and Bob Knepper picked up steam in the second half of the season. Ryan threw his fifth no-hitter on September 26 and finished the season with a 1.89 ERA. Knepper would finish with an ERA of 2.18. The division series against first half winner Los Angeles started great as Houston won the first two games at home, but the Dodgers took the next three in LA to win the series and advance to the World Series. Fans saw many players come and go in 1981 and would see more faces that are new in the next few years. 1982 saw a team mush different from the team that was just six outs away from the World Series in 1980. Only four players and three starting pitchers remained from the 1980 squad. The Astros also had three pitchers over the age 35. Knepper was the only starter under the age of thirty. It was clear by mid August the Astros were out of the race and the Astros decided to make some moves that would help them in the near future. Bill Virdon was fired as manager and Bob Lillis, an original Colt .45, took over. When Don Sutton asked to be traded the Astros obliged and sent him to Before the 1983 season the Astros traded Danny Heep to the Mets for pitcher Mike Scott; Scott had been struggling with the Mets, but the Astros were in need of young pitching and were willing to take a chance on the 28 year old Scott. Art Howe would sit out the ’83 season with an injury, forcing Phil Garner to third and Ray Knight to first. Bill Doran would take over at second becoming the everyday second baseman for the next seven seasons. The Astros would finish third in the NL west, but minor league prospects and key trades would move the Astros closer to the top of the division. The 1984 season started of bad for the Astros. Shortstop Dickie Thon was hit in the head by a rising fastball from Mets pitcher Mike Torrez. Thon suffered a shattered bone above his left eye. Surgery was performed and Thon suffered from blurry vision for the next several months and was lost for the season. Craig Reynolds would take over at his former position for Thon. Enos Cabell would return to the Astros to replace the slumping Ray Knight who was traded to the Mets in August. In September the Astros called up rookie Glenn Davis who was putting up impressive numbers in AAA Tucson. The Astros hoped that Davis would be the slugger that they needed and the everyday first baseman. The Astros finished in second place tied with Atlanta. In 1985 Mike Scott found himself coming off a 5-11 record. The Astros unwilling to give up on him sent him to former Houston pitching coach Roger Craig to learn a new pitch he was calling the “split-finger” fastball. The pitch looked like a normal fastball, but moved sharply downward at the last moment. Scott, who looked like he would be nothing more than a journeyman, had found his new pitch and would become one of Houston’s most celebrated pitchers. In June of 1985 Glenn Davis was called up to play first and add much needed power to the Astros line-up. In September Joe Niekro was traded to the Yankees for two minor league pitchers and lefty Jim Deshaies. Niekro left with the most franchise victories. The Astros finished in forth place in 1985. The talent was there, but the leadership to punch the team to the next level was not working. Changes in the off-season would see the Astros make it big in 1986.

Many people consider the best trade the Astros ever made to be their deal for Jeff Bagwell at the trading deadline in 1990. The Boston Red Sox, in a tight race for the American League East title, needed relief pitching help. The Astros gave the Red Sox journeyman Larry Andersen in exchange for minor-leaguer Bagwell, who would win the 1990 Eastern League MVP award for the AA New Britain Red Sox. With Mo Vaughn in their system, the Red Sox reasoned that Bagwell was expendable, and while Andersen did help the Red Sox to the divisional title, Bagwell went on to become the Astros' all-time home run leader and, in most people's minds, the second best overall player in Astros history, behind the great Craig Biggio. The trade was so lopsided that it appears on virtually any list of the best/worst trades in MLB history, and "Larry Andersen" became a popular phrase in Boston to describe the futility of the Red Sox front office during the 86-year "Curse of the Bambino." However, after the 1991 season, the Astros made one of the worst trades in franchise history, sending speedy outfielder Kenny Lofton to the Cleveland Indians for catcher Eddie Taubensee. Lofton would prove to be one of the best center fielders of the 1990s, earning five AL stolen base titles, six All-Star appearances, and four Gold Gloves.

The early 1990s were marked by the Astros' growing discontent with their home, the Astrodome. After the Astrodome was renovated for the primary benefit of the Houston Oilers, the Astros began to grow increasingly disenchanted with the facility. Faced with declining attendance at the Astrodome and the inability of management to obtain a new stadium, in the 1991 off-season Astros management announced its intention to sell the team and move the franchise to the Washington, D.C. area. However, the move was not approved by other National League owners, thus compelling the Astros to remain in Houston. Shortly thereafter, McMullen (who also owned the NHL's New Jersey Devils) sold the team to Texas businessman Drayton McLane in 1993, who committed to keeping the team in Houston.

Shortly after McLane's arrival, which coincided with the maturation of Bagwell and Biggio, the Astros began to show signs of consistent success. After finishing second in their division in 1994 (in a strike year), 1995, and 1996, the Astros won consecutive division titles in 1997, 1998, and 1999. In the 1998 season, the Astros set a team record with 102 victories. However, each of these titles was followed by a first-round playoff elimination, in 1998 by the San Diego Padres and in 1997 and 1999 against the Atlanta Braves. The manager of these title teams was Larry Dierker, who had previously been a broadcaster and pitcher for the Astros.

Coinciding with the change in ownership, the team switched uniforms and team colors after the 1993 season in order to go for a new, more serious image. The team's trademark rainbow uniforms were retired, and the team's colors changed to midnight blue and metallic gold. The "Astros" font on the team logo was changed to a more aggressive one, and the team's traditional star logo was changed to a stylized, "flying" star with an open left end. It marked the first time since the team's inception that orange was not part of the team's colors. Despite general agreement that the rainbow uniforms identified with the team had become tired (and looked too much like a minor league team according to the new owners), the new uniforms and caps were never especially popular with fans.

Off the field, in 1994, the Astros hired one of the first African American general managers, former franchise player Bob Watson. Watson would leave the Astros after the 1995 season to become general manager of the New York Yankees and helped to lead the Yankees to a World Championship in 1996. He would be replaced by Gerry Hunsicker, who until 2004 would continue to oversee the building of the Astros into one of the better and most consistent organizations in the Major Leagues.

However, in 1996, the Astros again nearly left Houston. By the mid-1990s, McLane (like McMullen before him) wanted his team out of the Astrodome and was asking the city to build the Astros a new stadium. When things did not progress quickly toward that end, he put the team up for sale. He had nearly finalized a deal to sell the team to businessman William Collins, who planned to move them to Northern Virginia. However, Collins was having difficulty finding a site for a stadium himself, so Major League owners stepped in and forced McLane to give Houston another chance to grant his stadium wish. Houston voters responded positively via a stadium referendum and the Astros stayed put.

In the 14 years since Drayton McLane has taken ownership of the Houston Astros, they have had the fourth best record in all of Major League Baseball. Only the Yankees, Red Sox, and Braves have done better overall.

After years at the outdated Astrodome, the Astros moved into their new stadium in 2000. Originally called Enron Field, the stadium was one of the first to feature a functional retractable roof, considered a necessity in Houston. Additionally the ballpark featured more intimate surroundings than the cavernous Astrodome. It is believed by some that the departure of the NFL's Houston Oilers, after Houston refused to build them a new stadium, contributed to the construction of Enron Field.

The ballpark features a train theme, since the ball park was built on the grounds of the old Union Station. The locomotive also pays homage to the history of Houston, where by 1860, 11 different railroad companies had lines running through the city. This is also represented in the city of Houston's official seal. A train whistle sounds, and a locomotive transverses a wall above the outfield after Astros hit a home run. The ballpark also contains quirks such as "Tal's Hill", which is a hill in deep center field on which a flagpole stands, all in fair territory. This was modeled after a similar feature that was located in Crosley Field, former home of the Cincinnati Reds. The terrace at Crosley Field was sloped at 15 degrees in left field, while Tal's Hill is sloped at 30 degrees in straightaway center. Over the years, many highlight reel catches have been made by center fielders running up the hill to make catches.

Perhaps most significantly, with its short left field fence (only slightly longer to left field than Fenway Park), overall shorter dimensions, and exposure to the elements, including the humid Texas air, Enron Field played like a hitters' park. This was a dramatic difference from the Astrodome, which was considered to be an extreme pitchers' park. In a challenge to home run hitters, owner Drayton McLane's office windows, located in the old Union Station above left field, are made of glass and marked as 442' from home plate.

With the change in location also came a change in attire. Gone were the blue and gold uniforms of the 1990s in favor a more "retro" look with pinstripes, a traditional baseball font, and the colors of brick red, sand and black. The "shooting star" logo was modified but still retained its definitive look.

After two fairly successful seasons without a playoff appearance, at midseason in 2004 the Astros were floundering. Before the season, the Astros had added star pitchers Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens to a team that already included stars like Lance Berkman and Jeff Kent as well as the nucleus of Bagwell and Biggio. They were quickly anointed one of the favorites to win the National League. However, at the All-Star Break, they were 44–44 largely due to an inability to score runs, and a poor record in 1-run games. After being booed at the 2004 All-Star Game held at Minute Maid Park while serving as a coach for the National League, Williams was fired and replaced by Phil Garner, who had been a star for the Astros' second division winner in 1986. Though many people were highly skeptical of Garner, who had a mediocre track record in his prior managerial stints in Milwaukee and Detroit, with only one winning season at either stop (in 1992), the team responded to Garner, who led the team to a 46–26 record in the second half and the National League's Wild Card. They would go on to win their first playoff series in eight attempts, beating the Braves in five games of the National League Division Series to advance to the National League Championship Series for the third time. However, they would lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, most dramatically on a walk-off home run by Jim Edmonds in the twelfth inning of Game 6.

The Astros' 2004 success had much to do with the postponed retirement of star pitcher Roger Clemens (a Houston resident), who ended 2004 with a record seventh Cy Young Award (his first in the NL). Clemens had previously announced that he was retiring after the 2003 season from the New York Yankees. However, after the Astros signed his former Yankee teammate Andy Pettitte and offered Clemens a number of perquisites (including the option to stay home with his family for certain road trips when he wasn't scheduled to pitch), Clemens reconsidered and signed a one-year deal with the Astros.

Additionally, the mid-season addition of Carlos Beltrán in a trade with the Kansas City Royals helped the Astros tremendously in their playoff run. Despite rumblings in July and August that the Astros might flip him to another contender, Beltrán would prove instrumental to the Astros' hopes, hitting eight home runs in the postseason. Following the season, after initially asserting a desire to remain with the Astros, Beltrán signed a long term contract with the New York Mets on January 9, 2005.

In 2005, the Astros got off to a poor start, dropping to 15 games below .500 (15–30) in late May before becoming nearly unbeatable. From that low point until the end of July, Houston went 42–17 and found themselves in the lead for the NL Wild Card. The hitting, largely absent in April and May, was suddenly there, with even the pitchers contributing.

The Astros had also developed an excellent pitching staff, anchored by Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens (who had a league-low ERA of only 1.87), and Brandon Backe. Rookie starters Ezequiel Astacio and Wandy Rodríguez were also successful.

The Astros won their National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves in four games. The fourth game set a record for a post-season game with most innings (18), most players used by a single team (T-23), most grand slams (2), and longest game time (5 hours and 50 minutes). Chris Burke hit a home run to win the game by a score of 7–6. Another notable performance was had by Roger Clemens who appeared from the bullpen for only the second time in his career as a reliever with three shutout innings and the win. After winning in the first round, the Astros picked up where they left off in the previous year, facing a rematch against the St. Louis Cardinals.

It is also notable that both the grand slam Lance Berkman hit in the 8th inning and the solo shot hit by Chris Burke in the 18th inning to win three hours later were caught by the same fan, Shaun Dean, in the left field Crawford Boxes. Dean, a 25-year-old comptroller for a construction company, donated the balls to the Hall of Fame and he and his son were rewarded with gifts from the Astros and the Baseball Hall of Fame as well as playoff tickets behind home plate.

The National League Championship Series (NLCS) featured a rematch of the 2004 NLCS. The Astros lost the first game in St. Louis, but would win the next three games with one in St. Louis and the next two in Houston. The Astros were poised to close-out the series in Houston, but the Cardinals managed to score three runs in the top of the 9th with a monstrous 3-run home run by Albert Pujols off Brad Lidge with two outs. The stunned crowd was silenced in disbelief. This would take the series back to St. Louis, where the Astros won the final game of the NLCS and the final game played at Busch Stadium.

Current honorary National League President William Y. Giles presented the Astros the Warren C. Giles Trophy, which is awarded to the National League Champion. It was Warren Giles, father of William and President of the National League from 1951 to 1969, who in October 1960 awarded the city of Houston the Major League franchise that would become the Houston Astros. Roy Oswalt, who went 2–0 and had an ERA of 1.29, won the NLCS MVP.

The Astros' opponent in their first ever World Series was the Chicago White Sox. Games 1 and 2 were held at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, while Games 3 and 4 were played at Minute Maid Park. Game 3 also marked the first Fall Classic game to be played in the state of Texas, and was the longest game in World Series history, lasting 14 innings. Early conventional wisdom held that the White Sox were a slight favorite, but that Houston would be an even match. However, the Astros' situational hitting continued to plague them throughout the World Series. The White Sox swept the Astros in the best-of-seven series with a run differential of six.

After losing the World Series the Astros prepared for the offseason by signing Preston Wilson and moving Lance Berkman to first base, ending the long tenure by Jeff Bagwell. The Astros resigned pitcher Roger Clemens and traded two minor league prospects to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for left-handed hitter Aubrey Huff and cash. In August 2006, Preston Wilson said that he wasn't getting enough playing time since Luke Scott returned from AAA ball with the Round Rock Express. In response the Astros released Wilson and the division rival Cardinals signed him for the rest of the season. After a dramatic last two weeks of the season, including a four game sweep of the Cardinals, the Astros did not get to the playoffs losing their last game to the Braves, 3–1. The Astros had managed to win 10 of their last 12 games of the season, and all but erased what had been an 8 1/2 game lead by the front running St. Louis Cardinals. The Astros were within a 1/2 game of the Cardinals on Thursday September 28, but that is as close as the 2005 NL Champions would get.

On October 1 Astros were the last remaining team that still had a chance to reach the 2006 postseason; consequently they were the final MLB team to be officially eliminated from playoff contention.

On October 31, the Astros declined option on Jeff Bagwell's contract for 2007, subsequently ending his 15-year tenure as an Astro. Bagwell left his name well-known in the Astros history books. On November 11, Bagwell files for free agency. Finally to end his amazing career, Bagwell announced his retirement on December 15.

On November 6, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte filed for free agency on Monday, five days before the Nov. 11 deadline.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, November 10, the Astros made a one-year deal with Craig Biggio worth $5.15 million to continue his march into the history books as he eyes 70 more hits to reach 3,000. This will mark Biggio's 20th season as an Astro.

On November 24, the Astros Signed outfielder Carlos Lee to a 6-year contract for $100 million, a franchise record. They also signed pitcher Woody Williams.

On December 8, Andy Pettitte, who signed with the Astros in 2003, announced that he will be returning to the Yankees accepting a 1 year $16 million contract with player option year also worth $16 million if picked up. "It shocked me that would not continue to go up, when the Yankees continued to push and push and pursue and they really didn't do much," Pettitte said. "It was a full-court press by the Yankees. I've talked to the guys, and obviously they wanted me to come back up there." The Astros reportedly offered a one-year $12 million contract but would not offer a player option for another year.

On December 8, frustrated by the Pettitte negotiations, the Astros were on the verge of acquiring right-hander Jon Garland from the Chicago White Sox in return for Willy Taveras, Taylor Buchholz, and Jason Hirsh but the deal was nixed by the White Sox because right-hander Taylor Buchholz reportedly failed a physical.

On December 12, the Astros traded 3 for 2 when they traded Willy Taveras, Taylor Buchholz, and Jason Hirsh to the Colorado Rockies for Rockies pitchers Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio. This trade turned out terribly for the Astros by the end of the 2007 season, as Taveras continued to develop, Hirsh had a strong rookie campaign, and Jennings was oft-injured and generally ineffective.

On April 28, the Astros purchased the contract of Hunter Pence, the organization's top prospect from Triple-A affiliate, and made his debut that night where he got his first career hit and run scored.

By May 2007, the Astros had suffered one of their worst losing streaks since the 1995 season with 10 losses in a row, losing 4–3 to the Cincinnati Reds on May 30. The Astros were just one loss shy of tying their worst skid in franchise history, before snapping that streak the next day, also against the Reds.

On June 12, the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics for the first time in team history.

On June 28, second baseman Craig Biggio became the 27th player to accrue 3000 career hits. On the same night in the bottom of the 11th inning Carlos Lee hit a towering walk-off grand slam to win the game for the Astros.

On July 24, Craig Biggio announced that he would be retiring at the end of the 2007 season, his 20th season with the club (and a franchise record). He hit a grand slam in that night's game which broke a 3–3 tie and led to an Astros win.

On July 28, the Astros traded RHP Dan Wheeler to Tampa Bay for right-handed slugger 3B Ty Wigginton and cash considerations. He is now signed through 2009. On July 29, long time and former All-Star third baseman Morgan Ensberg was designated for assignment to make room for newly acquired Wigginton.

On August 26, former first baseman Jeff Bagwell's number 5 was officially retired after a 15 year career with the Astros.

On August 27, manager Phil Garner and General Manager Tim Purpura were relieved of their duties. Cecil Cooper and Tal Smith were named as interim replacements, respectively.

On September 17, in a 6–0 loss to the Brewers the Astros were officially eliminated from the 2007 playoffs.

On September 20, Ed Wade was named as the new General Manager of the Astros. He made his first move as GM by trading Jason Lane to the Padres on September 24.

On September 30, Craig Biggio retired, ending a 20-year career with the Astros.

On November 7, the Astros traded RHP Brad Lidge and SS Eric Bruntlett to the Philadelphia Phillies for OF Michael Bourn, RHP Geoff Geary, and minor leaguer Mike Costanzo. As well, utility player Mark Loretta accepted Houston's salary arbitration.

On November 30, the Astros and 2B Kazuo Matsui finalized a $16.5 million, three-year contract.

On December 12, the Astros trade OF Luke Scott, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Dennis Sarfate, LHP Troy Patton, and minor-league 3B Mike Costanzo, to the Baltimore Orioles for SS Miguel Tejada.

On December 14, the Astros trade INF Chris Burke, RHP Juan Gutiérrez, RHP Chad Qualls to the Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP José Valverde.

On December 27, the Astros came to terms on a deal with All-star, Gold Glove winner Darin Erstad.

On January 11, the Astros started off 2008 by signing Brandon Backe to a one-year deal. During the rest of the month, they also signed Ty Wigginton and Dave Borkowski to one-year deals.

In February the Astros signed Shawn Chacón to a one-year contract.

The Astros started off their Spring Training campaign with a loss to the Cleveland Indians on February 28. Spring Training ended with a loss to the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park before the Astros went on to face the San Diego Padres. Manager Cecil Cooper and General Manager Ed Wade had a tough decision to make before the trip. Astros pitcher Woody Williams had a bad spring, going 0–4 throughout the stay in Florida. They released him on March 30 with which he immediately retired.

The Astros also announced their starting pitching rotation. As usual, Roy Oswalt was given the ball on opening day. With Jason Jennings in Texas and Williams retired, the Astros named Brandon Backe to the second spot. Wandy Rodríguez would get the ball in the third spot with Shawn Chacón and Chris Sampson following them in the #4 and 5 spots, respectively.

The Astros opened up their season in San Diego without second baseman Kazuo Matsui. Matsui, who had been injured in Spring Training, was completing a Minor League rehab assignment. The game that day was bad for Houston with Roy Oswalt gave up four runs in six innings of work. The final was 4–0 for the Padres. As well, the Astros lost the second game of the series with Mark Loretta and Geoff Blum in the starting lineup.

On Wandy Rodríguez's start, the Astros won their first game with a 9–6 victory over the Padres. Lance Berkman hit a game-winning, three-run home run in the 9th. In the final game of the series, Shawn Chacón pitched a solid game but the Astros lost after Chacón exited with the score tied 2–2.

In May, the Astros have made some roster moves by sending rookie catcher J. R. Towles to the Triple A Round Rock Express and calling up center fielder Reggie Abercrombie. Dave Borkowski was sent down earlier in the month, Chris Sampson was demoted to the bullpen and Brian Moehler was promoted into the starting rotation.

On June 25, Shawn Chacón was suspended indefinitely for insubordination. The next day the Astros placed him on waivers.

On June 28, the Astros beat the Boston Red Sox for the first time in team history. They have played Boston previously in 2003, but they were swept when they played in Fenway Park.

On September 14, the Astros lost a no hitter to the Chicago Cubs while playing in Milwaukee due to the effects of Hurricane Ike.

Los Caballitos, are a group of devoted Carlos Lee fans that attend every Astros home game, usually standing in a balcony above the Crawford boxes near the Home Run Pump. Their name in Spanish means "The little horses," a name that pays homage to Carlos Lee's nickname El Caballo, meaning "the horse." This is due to his speed and large build. They traditionally have wood-stick horses that they hold as they cheer. They are often dressed as Mexican cowboys, complete with sombreros. This is another homage to Lee, as one of his life interests is ranching.

The Little Pumas formed during the 2008 season when Lance Berkman was among the league leaders in many offensive categories, due to a hot-hitting month of May. The name of the group pays tribute to Berkman's nickname, "Big Puma", which, in a tongue-in-cheek remark during a radio interview, he coined due to his fierce yet quick style of play. as well as his dislike towards his other nickname, "Fat Elvis". At games they can be found cheering on the "Conoco Home Run Porch", dressed up as none other than "little" pumas.

The O's Bros are a group of fans who attend every Roy Oswalt home game (some road games as well). Created in May 2002, the O's Bros would hang "O's" instead of the traditional "K" for every strikeout Oswalt would get, along with performing a strikeout dance. They originally had two signs they would hang, one saying "Wizard of O's" and the second saying "O's Bros". In 2004, the Bros revealed a new and improved O's Bros sign. Section 337 of the Upper Deck at Minute Maid Park was the home of the O's Bros for 5 plus years, but has recently relocated to section 255 of the Mezzanine due to obstructed viewing in the upper deck. The O's Bros are always looking for new members and joining is simple: just show up.

The Killer Bs were a group of players that played for Houston that all had names starting with the letter "B" and performing commendably. The original Killer Bs were nicknamed in the '90s, and consisted of Craig Biggio, Derek Bell, Jeff Bagwell, and Sean Berry. Other players have been added and some have been dropped as they have left the Astros. Other players of mention are Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltrán, Chris Burke, Brandon Backe, and Eric Bruntlett.

While there has yet to be an Astros player to go into the Hall of Fame as an Astro, there are two announcers that have been inducted.

As of 2008, the Astros' flagship radio station is KTRH, 740AM. Milo Hamilton, a veteran voice who was on the call for Hank Aaron's 715th career home run in 1974, is the current play-by-play announcer for home games. Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan share play-by play duty for road games, while Raymond additionally works as Hamilton's color analyst.

Spanish language radio play-by-play is handled by Francisco Romero, and his play-by-play partner is Alex Treviño, a former backup catcher for the club.

Television coverage is mainly on FSN Houston (formerly a subfeed of FSN Southwest, now its own network; logo on top-right of the screen reads FSASTROS), although some games are on My Network TV affiliate KTXH, with the games produced by FSN Houston. Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies compose the broadcast team on TV.

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List of Houston Astros Opening Day starting pitchers

Roy Oswalt, the Houston Astros Opening Day starting pitcher for seven straight years, from 2003 through 2009.

The Houston Astros are a Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise based in Houston, Texas. They play in the National League Central division. The Houston Astros have used 19 different Opening Day starting pitchers in their 48 seasons. The 19 starters have a combined Opening Day record of 20 wins, 20 losses and 8 no decisions. No decisions are only awarded to the starting pitcher if the game is won or lost after the starting pitcher has left the game.

The Astros began to play in 1962 as the Houston Colt .45s (their name was changed to the Astros in 1965 when the Houston Astrodome opened as their home ball park). Bobby Shantz started their first Opening Day game on April 10, 1962 against the Chicago Cubs at Houston's Colt Stadium and was credited with the win. In their first eight seasons, the Colt .45s / Astros used eight different Opening Day starters. In 1970, that streak ended when Larry Dierker made his second Opening Day start.

Roy Oswalt has made the most Opening Day starts for the Astros, with seven such starts from 2009 through 2008. Three different pitchers have each made five Opening Day starts for the Astros: J. R. Richard (1976–1980), Mike Scott (1987–1991) and Shane Reynolds (1996–2000). Dierker made four Opening Day starts for the Astros, and Joe Niekro and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan made three apiece. Dierker has the best record in Opening Day starts with four wins and no losses. Niekro and Don Wilson share the worst record in Opening Day starts with no wins and two losses each. Niekro also had one no decision.

The Astros have played in three home ball parks. Their first home ball park was Colt Stadium. Their starting pitchers had one win and one loss in their two Opening Day games at Colt Stadium. They played 25 Opening Day games in the Astrodome after moving there in 1965, and their starting pitchers had a record of 12 wins, 8 losses and 5 no decisions in those games. They moved to Enron Field (subsequently renamed Astros Field and Minute Maid Park) in 2000. Through 2009, they have played eight Opening Day games there, and their starting pitchers have a record of three wins, three losses and two no decisions in those games. This makes the record of the Astros' Opening Day starting pitchers in home games 16 wins, 12 losses and 7 no decisions. Their record in Opening Day away games is four wins, eight losses and one no decision. The Astros have advanced to the World Series once, in 2005. Oswalt lost to the St. Louis Cardinals as the Opening Day starter that season.

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No-hitter

In baseball, a no-hitter (also known as a no-hit game, or colloquially, a "no-no") refers to a game in which one of the teams prevented the other from getting a hit. A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter". Throwing a no-hitter is rare and considered an extraordinary accomplishment for a pitcher or pitching staff. In most cases in the professional game, no-hitters are accomplished by a single pitcher who throws a complete game.

Because it is possible to reach base without a hit (most commonly via walk or error), the term no-hitter does not imply that the opposing team had no baserunners. Thus, although it is extremely uncommon, it is possible for a pitcher to throw a no-hitter and yet lose the game. The case of a no-hitter in which the other team has not reached base at all is called a perfect game, which is a victory, a shutout, and a no-hitter. In a perfect game, a pitcher or combination of pitchers on the same team will have retired all batters faced during the game.

One of the most common baseball superstitions is that it is bad luck to mention a no-hitter in progress, especially to the pitcher and in particular by his teammates (who sometimes even go so far as to not even be near the pitcher). Some sportscasters observe this taboo, while others have no reservations about mentioning no-hitters before completion (and are sometimes blamed for jinxing no-hitters). In the age of television, cutaways to commercial breaks often feature a line score, visually informing the viewer of the no-hitter in progress even if the announcer keeps silent about it. When Sandy Koufax pitched his no-hitter against the Mets in 1962, one of their 120 losses that season, Mets' coach Solly Hemus, apparently trying to jinx Koufax, kept heckling him through the game about pitching a no-hitter, according to a post-game interview Koufax gave after pitching his third no-hitter in 1964.

No-hitters are a rare occurrence. Only 256 have been thrown in the major leagues since 1875, an average of about two per year.

A no-hitter is defined by Major League Baseball thus: "An official no-hit game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings." By this rule, a pitcher who throws fewer than nine no-hit innings (for example, a no-hitter called on account of rain after seven innings) is not credited with a no-hitter, and neither is a pitcher who throws nine no-hit innings but gives up a hit in extra innings. The rule also excludes several examples of pitchers (or pitching staffs) for a visiting team who pitched 8 innings of no-hit ball, but who are denied the opportunity to pitch the ninth inning due to the home team leading after 8 1/2 innings (and thus winning the game without needing to bat in the bottom of the ninth).

This rule was instituted by MLB's Committee for Statistical Accuracy in 1991, and resulted in several pitchers who had thrown no-hitters of fewer than nine innings being stripped of credit for an official no-hitter.

256 no-hitters have been thrown in Major League history; only 17 of those were perfect games. Multiple no-hitters have been thrown on the same day twice: Ted Breitenstein and Jim Hughes on April 22, 1898; and Dave Stewart and Fernando Valenzuela on June 29, 1990.

The highest number of no-hitters thrown in a year is eight, in 1884. The most thrown in one year in the modern era (since 1901) is seven, in both 1990 and 1991, making for the most in any two-year span, with fourteen.

The longest period between any two no-hitters in the modern era is 3 years, 44 days between Bobby Burke on August 8, 1931, and Paul "Daffy" Dean on September 21, 1934. There was a drought of 3 years, 11 months without a no-hitter after the first National League no-hitter on July 15, 1876, pitched by George Bradley. The most recent year that did not have any no-hitters is 2005.

The pitcher who holds the record for the most no-hitters is Nolan Ryan, who threw seven in his long career and was regarded as the undisputed king of no-hitters. His first two came exactly two months apart, while he was with the California Angels: the first on May 15, 1973 and the second on July 15. He won two more with the Angels: September 28, 1974 and June 1, 1975. Ryan threw his fifth no-hitter with the Houston Astros on September 26, 1981, which broke Sandy Koufax's previous record. His sixth and seventh no-hitters came with the Texas Rangers on June 11, 1990, and May 1, 1991, respectively. When he tossed number seven at age 44, he was also the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter.

The pitcher who holds the record for the longest period between no-hitters is Randy Johnson, who threw a no-hitter as a member of the Seattle Mariners on June 2, 1990 and a perfect game as an Arizona Diamondback on May 18, 2004. The pitcher who holds the record for the shortest time between no-hitters is Johnny Vander Meer, who is the only pitcher in history to throw no-hitters in two consecutive starts, for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938. Twenty-five men in all have thrown more than one no-hitter. Only Nolan Ryan (seven), Sandy Koufax (four), Cy Young (three), Bob Feller (three), and Larry Corcoran (three) have pitched more than two. Corcoran was the first pitcher to throw a second no-hitter in a career (in 1882), as well as the first to throw a third (in 1884).

A particularly notable no-hitter was pitched on September 4, 1993, by Jim Abbott of the New York Yankees, who beat the Cleveland Indians, 4-0. It is notable for the fact that Jim Abbott was born without a right hand, making him the only physically-disabled pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter.

Jason Varitek has caught four no-hitters, all with the Red Sox, the most of any catcher: Hideo Nomo's in 2001, Derek Lowe's in 2002, rookie Clay Buchholz's in 2007 and Jon Lester's in 2008.

There have never been no-hitters thrown by the same team in consecutive games, although it has happened once on consecutive days: On May 5, 1917, Ernie Koob of the St. Louis Browns no-hit the Chicago White Sox, and teammate Bob Groom repeated the feat in the second game of a doubleheader the following day. In 2008, the Chicago Cubs' Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Houston Astros on September 14, with teammate Ted Lilly giving up just one hit in the teams' next meeting the following day, Monday September 15.

On two occasions, there have been back-to-back no-hitters thrown by each team in a series. On September 17, 1968, Gaylord Perry of the San Francisco Giants no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals, with the Cardinals' Ray Washburn no-hitting the Giants the following day. On April 30, 1969, Jim Maloney of the Cincinnati Reds no-hit the Houston Astros, with the Astros' Don Wilson no-hitting the Reds the following day.

Carlos Zambrano pitched the only no-hitter at a neutral site for the Chicago Cubs on September 14, 2008. The game, originally scheduled to be played in Houston, was played at Milwaukee's Miller Park because of Hurricane Ike. This is to date the last no hitter thrown in the MLB.

There have been nine combined no-hitters; that is, when multiple pitchers collectively throw a no-hitter during a game. The first was on June 23, 1917, when Ernie Shore of the Boston Red Sox relieved the starting pitcher, Babe Ruth, who had been ejected for arguing with the umpire after walking the first batter of the game. The runner at first was caught attempting to steal second base, and Shore then consecutively retired the next 26 batters without allowing any baserunners. This game was long considered a perfect game by Shore, since he recorded 27 outs in succession, but is only a combined no-hitter under current rules. The second combined no-hitter did not occur until 30 April 1967, when Stu Miller recorded the final out in relief of Steve Barber.

The first, and only, combined extra inning no-hitter to date occurred on July 12, 1997, when the Pittsburgh Pirates' Francisco Cordova (9 innings) and Ricardo Rincon (1 inning) combined to no-hit the Houston Astros, 3-0. The extra inning no-no was capped off by a three run walk-off home run by pinch hitter Mark Smith in the bottom of the tenth inning.

The Major League record for pitchers combining to pitch a no-hitter is six, set by the Houston Astros against the New York Yankees on June 11, 2003. The pitchers were Roy Oswalt (the starting pitcher), then relievers Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner.

Only one pitcher, Mike Witt, has thrown a no-hitter as a starter, and also contributed to a no-hitter as a reliever. On September 30, 1984, Witt threw a 1-0 perfect game for the California Angels against the Texas Rangers. Then on April 11, 1990, Witt relieved Mark Langston after 7 innings, pitching the last two innings to get the save in another 1-0 win for the Angels over the Seattle Mariners.

The Cleveland Indians' Bob Feller left the Chicago White Sox hitless in the 1940 season opener on April 16. This remains the only official Opening Day no-hitter to date.

No-hitters have twice been thrown on the final day of the season. On September 28, 1975, four Oakland Athletics pitchers (Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad, and Rollie Fingers) tossed a combined no-hitter against the California Angels. On September 30, 1984, Mike Witt of the Angels pitched a perfect game against the Texas Rangers.

The Houston Astros' Mike Scott no-hit the San Francisco Giants on September 25, 1986, a victory that also clinched the National League West title for the Astros; this is the only such coincidence in Major League history to date.

On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw a perfect game in Game 5 of that year's World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen is still the only person in Major League history to throw a no-hitter of any kind during a postseason game of any kind. The feat had nearly been accomplished nine years earlier by the Yankees' Bill Bevens, who came within one out of a no-hitter (but not a perfect game) against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series, only to lose the game on a pinch-hit double by Cookie Lavagetto. There have been other one-hitters in the World Series, with the lone hit coming earlier in the game than in Bevens' feat.

In all, 21 rookies have pitched a no-hitter since 1901. Two pitchers have thrown a no-hitter in their first major league starts; two others have done it in their second major league starts.

Bumpus Jones of the Cincinnati Reds threw a no hitter on October 15, 1892 in his first major league game. Jones pitched only eight games in the big leagues, finishing with a career win/loss record of 2-4 and a career earned run average of 7.99.

Ted Breitenstein pitched a no-hitter in his first Major League start on October 4, 1891, however, it was not his first Major League game. He later threw a second no-hitter on April 22, 1898.

On May 6, 1953, Bobo Holloman pitched a no-hitter for the St. Louis Browns in his first major league start (also not his first major league game). This game would prove to be one of only three major league wins that Holloman achieved, against seven losses, all in 1953. Bill Veeck, then-owner of the Browns, in his autobiography described the 27 outs of Holloman's no-hitter as consisting of hard-hit ground balls, screaming line drives, and deep fly balls.

On August 11, 1991, Wilson Alvarez of the Chicago White Sox pitched a no-hitter in his second career major league start. During Alvarez's first career start, he had allowed three runs on a pair of home runs and did not retire a single batter. Unlike Jones and Holloman, Alvarez went on to win 102 games over a 16-year career.

Most recently, rookie Clay Buchholz pitched a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox in his second major league start on September 1, 2007 at Fenway Park. The game ended in a 10-0 victory for the Red Sox over the Baltimore Orioles.

A game that cannot continue due to weather or darkness may be considered a completed official game, as long as at least five innings have been completed. Until 1991, any such game in which a pitcher held the opposing team without hits was considered an official no-hitter; under the revised rule a no-hitter must last for at least nine innings to count. There have been thirty-six games in which a no-hitter was interrupted by weather or darkness, with lengths ranging from 5 to 8 innings. These games are no longer considered no-hitters. In addition, four no-hitters did not reach the regulation nine innings simply because the pitcher was a member of the visiting team and entered the ninth inning already losing (see below).

Unlike a perfect game, in which no batters reach base, in regular no-hitters batters can reach base in other ways, such as a walk, an error, or a hit batsman. Thus it is possible to lose a no-hitter. On April 23, 1964, Ken Johnson of the Houston Colt .45s became the only pitcher to lose a complete game no-hitter in nine innings when he was beaten 1-0 by Cincinnati. The winning run was scored by Pete Rose in the top of the ninth inning via an error, groundout, and another error. In 1967, Steve Barber and Stu Miller of the Baltimore Orioles pitched a combined no-hitter, but lost 2-1 to the Detroit Tigers.

Because the home team does not bat in the ninth inning when it is already leading, a visiting pitcher (or pitchers) may complete a full game without allowing a hit but not be credited with an official no-hitter because they pitched only 8 innings. This happened most recently on June 28, 2008, when Jered Weaver and José Arredondo of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim threw 8 no-hit innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, but lost the game 1-0 and are not credited with a no-hitter. This is the first near no-hitter of this kind in which more than one pitcher was involved. Previously, Silver King (1890), Andy Hawkins (1990), and Matt Young (1992) pitched complete games without allowing a hit, but pitched only 8 innings as the losing pitcher from the visiting team, and thus are not credited with a no-hitter.

A game that is a no-hitter through nine innings may be lost in extra innings. Under current rules, such a game is not considered an official no-hitter because the pitcher did not keep the opponent hitless for the entire course of the game.

On May 2, 1917, a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds reached the end of nine innings in a hitless scoreless tie, the only time in baseball history that neither team has had a hit in regulation. Both Hippo Vaughn of the Cubs and Fred Toney of the Reds continued pitching into the tenth inning. Vaughn lost his no-hitter in the top of the tenth, as the Reds got two hits and scored the winning run. Toney retired the side in the bottom of the tenth and recorded a ten-inning no-hitter. This game was long considered a "double no-hitter," but Vaughn is no longer credited with a no-hitter under the current rules.

Of the thirteen potential no-hitters that have been lost in extra innings, two were perfect games. On 26 May 1959, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched a remarkable twelve perfect innings before losing the no-hitter and the game to the Milwaukee Braves in the thirteenth inning. On 3 June 1995, Pedro Martínez of the Montreal Expos pitched nine perfect innings against the San Diego Padres before giving up a hit in the tenth, though he still won a 1-0 game.

Four teams in Major League Baseball have not had a pitcher toss a no-hitter. Two of the four are recent expansion teams: the Tampa Bay Rays (1998) and the Colorado Rockies (1993). The other two are longer established teams. The San Diego Padres (1969) have gone 38 years without a no-hitter, with Steve Arlin coming the closest, losing his no-hit bid with one out to go vs. the Philadelphia Phillies on July 18, 1972.

The team that has been in the league the longest without a no-hitter is the New York Mets, who began play in 1962. Mets' pitchers have thrown 33 one-hitters, and fourteen pitchers that have played for the Mets have thrown no-hitters for other teams. Nolan Ryan, traded from the Mets after the 1971 season, threw seven no-hitters with all of the three other teams he pitched for over his 27-year career. Tom Seaver threw five one-hitters with the Mets, including three that were no-hitters broken up in the 9th inning. He would finally toss his lone career no-hitter for the Cincinnati Reds after being traded from the Mets on June 15, 1977. Perhaps as painful, two Mets stars during the 1980s would throw no-hitters for the cross-town New York Yankees in the twilight of their careers: Dwight (Doc) Gooden on May 14, 1996, and David Cone (a perfect game) on July 18, 1999. Hideo Nomo, who played for the Mets during the 1998 season, holds the distinction of throwing no-hitters before and after leaving the Mets, throwing no-hitters on September 17, 1996 (for the Los Angeles Dodgers) and April 4, 2001 (for the Boston Red Sox).

Of the teams that have achieved no-hitters, the longest current "drought" belongs to the San Francisco Giants. The Giants achieved two of them in 1975 and 1976, with John Montefusco having pitched the last one to date, on September 29, 1976.

Every modern-era team, including all the expansion teams with the exception of the Florida Marlins, has suffered at least one no-hitter pitched against them. The team escaping being no-hit for the longest time was the New York Yankees, from September 20, 1958 to June 11, 2003, a span of almost 45 years. The longest current streak belongs to the Chicago Cubs, at 43-plus years, who were last victims of a no-hitter at the hand of Sandy Koufax's perfect game on September 9, 1965.

Forbes Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates from the middle of the 1909 season until the middle of the 1970 season, is the only long-term home field where a no-hitter was never thrown during its existence. There are several current recently-built fields where no-hitters have not yet been thrown.

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Source : Wikipedia