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Garner: Astros have unfinished business in WS

Former manager took only other Houston team to Fall Classic, in 2005
MLB.com @boomskie

LOS ANGELES -- Phil Garner managed the only other Astros team to make it the World Series in a club history that dates back to 1962. Thus, he feels like this year's Astros are facing unfinished business.

In 2005, his Astros were swept by the White Sox, but the run differential in the four games was a spare six runs. Those Astros had Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, and perhaps future Hall of Famers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

LOS ANGELES -- Phil Garner managed the only other Astros team to make it the World Series in a club history that dates back to 1962. Thus, he feels like this year's Astros are facing unfinished business.

In 2005, his Astros were swept by the White Sox, but the run differential in the four games was a spare six runs. Those Astros had Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, and perhaps future Hall of Famers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

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These Astros are opening the World Series presented by YouTube TV on Tuesday night against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium with a chance to finally win it all. It'll be two of the game's top left-handers -- Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw -- on the mound.

"As I told somebody already, we have a second-place World Series finish in Astros history, we don't need another one," Garner told MLB.com when reached by phone at his home outside Houston on Monday evening. "I'd like to see them go ahead and win it this time. I think it would be a fabulous story.

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"After Hurricane Harvey did so much damage in our city, this has been a wonderful respite. It's always great fun when a baseball team wins because it builds, it builds over time. This is going to be fun no matter what happens. But it will be a lot more fun if we win it. It will be great for the city."

Garner, a former Major League infielder who played for the Astros and Dodgers, managed 15 years in the big leagues in Milwaukee, Detroit and Houston, starting in 1992 with the Brewers and ending a four-year tour with the Astros in 2007.

He's 68 and retired, in the middle of playing 62 holes of golf on a junket with his son during the course of three days.

"If I make it through that, I'll probably live to be 90," he quipped.

Garner said he remembers the events of 2005 like they were yesterday.

"I thought we had the best chance to get to the World Series in 2004," said Garner, whose team lost to the Cardinals in a seven-game National League Championship Series that postseason, but beat the same team in six to win it in 2005. "I didn't know how our team was going to do, but we wound up having a terrific run, so it was really cool."

Still, there was drama. Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning off closer Brad Lidge in Game 5 to send the NLCS back to St. Louis. In Game 6, Roy Oswalt came back to pitch seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball to clinch Houston's first pennant.

Video: 2005 NLCS Gm6: Astros reach first World Series

It was finally on to the World Series, which was won, 1-0, by Chicago in Game 4 at Houston on Jermaine Dye's eighth-inning RBI knock.

"I thought we had a terrific chance," Garner said. "It was hard fought. It was one of the closest World Series in run differential in modern times. All four games were very close. We were one hit from breaking the games open. It was a good series, a great series. Of course, you never like getting beat, but we played very well."

That is ancient history, of course. And Garner, just an Astros fan now, will be pulling from afar for his old club during this World Series.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

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