3 HOUSTON Astros

A. C.
April 2005
Sports Illustrated;4/4/2005, Vol. 102 Issue 14, p118
This article previews the Houston Astros baseball team for the 2005 Major League Baseball season. Forget that he was one of the players most responsible for the Astros' edging out the Giants for the National League wild card last season and that he notched his first postseason save in October. A month later Brad Lidge reached a more surprising milestone. "Someone recognized me," says the 28-year-old closer. "When you're a pitcher for the Houston Astros and a stranger notices you in a mall in Colorado, you know things have really changed." Lidge converted 29 of 33 save opportunities and set a league record for strikeouts by a reliever (157), while registering the highest rate of strikeouts per nine innings in history (14.93) among pitchers with at least as many innings in a season as he had (94 2/3). Lidge will be counted on to close out games started by what should be a formidable rotation led by Andy Pettitte and righthanders Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt. But there are concerns about the durability of that rotation. Clemens, last year's Cy Young winner, turns 43 in August. Pettitte's sore elbow limited him to 15 starts before he shut down and underwent surgery on Aug. 24. (He'll be ready for Opening Day.) Oswalt was the NL's lone 20-game winner last year despite pitching with a strained rib-cage muscle that required cortisone injections before each start.


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