Sunday, June 28, 2009

Brandon Backe: A retrospective

The Five Greatest Games as an Astro

5. May 15, 2005. Complete game, 4-hit shutout of the San Francisco Giants.

4. 2004 ALDS Game 3 vs. Atlanta. Backe throws 6IP, 5H/2ER, 5K:2BB. Coming off an 11-inning loss in Game 2, Backe gets the ball and delivers a win at home to take a 2-1 series lead.

3. 2004 NLCS Game 4 vs. St Louis. Backe throws 5.2IP, 2H/1ER, 7K:3BB. Backe again doesn't factor in the decision, because the Astros can't score any runs. This was the game LaRussa and Edmonds were both thrown out. Lane's homer and Ensberg's sac fly accounted for all the Astros' runs.

2. 2005 World Series Game 4 vs. Chicago White Sox. Once again, the Astros can't score, and lose the game 1-0, marking the closest sweep (read: "narrowest ass-whoopin'") in World Series history. Backe throws 7IP, 5H/0ER, 7K:0BB. Lidge comes in and gets the loss thanks to Jermaine Dye's RBI single in the 8th. At one point Backe struck out five White Sox in a row over the 4th/5th innings.

1. 2004 NLCS Game 5 vs. St Louis. Pitcher's duel with Woody Williams. Backe goes out and throws 8IP, 1H/0ER, 4K:2BB. Backe actually had a no-hitter going through 5.2IP, and until Jeff Kent's legendary walk-off (remember the hat flip?), this was among the most nerve-wracking Astros games I can remember. This game gave the Astros a 3-2 series lead, and Garner had the decision to make: Start Pete Munro in Game 6 and hope for the best? Or start Clemens on short rest and close it out? Neither of those things happen, and instead we were treated to St. Louis getting the snot knocked out of them by the Red Sox. Incidentally, this NLCS should count among the greatest series' of all time. But because the Red Sox made their 3-0 comeback against the Yankees, it doesn't get near enough credit.

I'm more sad about Backe's departure than I thought I would be. Maybe it's heading down Memory Ln, but it's important to note that Backe was more clutch in '04/'05 postseason games than Clemens was.

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