10/05/05 8:30 PM ET
Astros short hops
Pettitte cruises behind loads of run support
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
They scored 10 runs on 11 hits in their 10-5 whomping of Atlanta in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, and Pettitte made that offense stand. In the regular season, the Astros scored more than three runs in 18 of Pettitte's 33 starts, and Pettitte went 14-1 in those games, including 12 straight wins.
Morgan Ensberg led the way with five RBIs and made sure Pettitte did not have to be perfect.
In 33 starts this year, Pettitte surrendered 17 home runs, never more than one in a game. He surrendered two in five June starts and two in six starts in July. In Game 1, Pettitte surrendered two home runs in the first four innings, but the Astros still cruised to a win.
A look at key statistics through Game 1 of the NLDS.
|ERA||5.00||Bats gave pitchers plenty of wiggle room|
|BA||.355||In last year's NLDS, Astros hit .322|
|BA w/ RISP||.417 (5-for-12)||Ensberg most clutch of all Astros|
|Runs||10||Team averaged 7.2 R/G in 2004 NLDS|
|Morgan Ensberg||.750 BA, 5 RBIs||Picked perfect time for career day|
|Andy Pettitte||1-0, 3.86 ERA||Big-game pitcher lives up to reputation|
|Jason Lane||.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI||Only Astros starter without a Game 1 hit or run|
Behind the numbers
The Astros executed four sacrifice bunts in Wednesday's game, a single-game Division Series record for both leagues. Pettitte executed two of the bunts, and Craig Biggio and Willy Taveras one apiece. But Astros manager Phil Garner hinted strongly that Taveras was bunting for a hit in the first inning, though the skipper declined to lay out his strategy there.
The Astros had Braves starter Tim Hudson on the ropes all afternoon, and Ensberg finally knocked him out in the seventh. Pettitte doubled and moved to third on a Biggio sacrifice, but Hudson then retired Taveras on a groundout. He intentionally walked Lance Berkman to face Ensberg, who grounded an RBI single into left field. It was a huge add-on run.
The Astros rallied for a run in a long top of the seventh inning as Pettitte doubled and scored. But instead of trying to test Pettitte's stamina in the next half-inning, the Braves attacked early in the count and went down in order on eight pitches.
With five RBIs, Ensberg tied his career high set June 28 at Colorado, tied the Astros playoff record and would have tied a National League Division Series record had the Cardinals' Reggie Sanders not driven in six runs on Tuesday in St. Louis.
Modern history, part II
Houston's five-run eighth was its eighth inning this year in which it scored five or more runs.
4/22 at STL: five-run sixth inning, 8-7 loss
5/1 vs CHC: seven-run fifth inning, 9-3 win
5/2 vs PIT: five-run fourth inning, 11-4 win
5/28 at MIL: five-run sixth inning, 9-6 win
6/5 vs STL: five-run first inning, 6-4 win
8/15 vs CHC: six-run fifth inning, 12-4 win
8/30 vs CIN: five-run fifth inning, 5-2 win
10/5 at ATL: five-run eighth inning, 10-5 win*
Modern history, part III
With his 14th career postseason win, Pettitte tied Atlanta's John Smoltz for most all-time. Smoltz will start Game 2 against Roger Clemens on Thursday night.
"Well, it seemed that way today, but that's not necessarily the case. I wanted to score lots of runs today."
-- Astros manager Phil Garner, on his bunt-happy ballclub
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.