10 greatest moments at Minute Maid Park
HOUSTON – When a team makes two runs to Game 7 of the World Series in a span of three years, there are bound to be countless memorable moments along the way. The Astros provided many of those during the past four seasons at Minute Maid Park.
From thrilling World Series wins to unforgettable accomplishments by some of the best players in the game, Minute Maid Park has packed a ton of history into its 20-plus years. Here are the top 10 moments in the ballpark’s history:
1. Walk-off win in Game 5 of 2017 World Series
Oct. 29, 2017
In one of the wildest games in World Series history, Alex Bregman’s walk-off single to left field off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the 10th inning scored pinch-runner Derek Fisher from second base and sent the Astros to a 13-12 win and 3-2 lead in the Fall Classic.
"It's an unbelievable moment," Bregman said. "You dream about it as a little kid. To be living a dream, one win away from the World Series, is really special."
Neither Astros starter Dallas Keuchel nor Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, a pair of Cy Young Award winners, made it through the fifth inning. Kershaw allowed six runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings, and Keuchel allowed four runs (three earned) and five hits in 3 2/3 frames. Both bullpens got battered -- Houston's gave up eight runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings, and L.A.’s allowed seven runs and 10 hits in five innings.
After the Astros wiped out deficits of 4-0, 7-4 and 8-7 with game-tying home runs, Los Angeles turned the tables on Houston by coming back from a 12-9 deficit in the ninth inning. Yasiel Puig hit a two-run homer off Astros reliever Chris Devenski to narrow the deficit before Chris Taylor, who was down to his last strike, connected on an RBI single to center to tie it at 12.
The five-hour, 17-minute contest trails only Game 3 of the 2005 Fall Classic, when the Astros fell to the White Sox, 7-5, in 14 innings in a five-hour, 41-minute game.
2. Altuve walk-off homer to clinch 2019 ALCS
Oct. 19, 2019
Jose Altuve crushed an Aroldis Chapman slider and hit a towering walk-off two-run homer in the ninth inning to score George Springer for a 6-4 win over the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS. The Astros won the best-of-seven series, 4-2, to punch their ticket to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
“We're not going to the World Series because of me,” said Altuve, who was named the ALCS MVP after hitting .349 with two homers. “We're going to the World Series because of everybody inside of the clubhouse.”
Yankees first baseman DJ LeMahieu hit a stunning two-run homer in the ninth inning to tie the game, but that simply set the stage for Altuve -- the only Astros player who endured the three 100-loss seasons in a row -- to send Houston back to the World Series.
3. Biggio reaches 3,000 hits
June 28, 2007
Craig Biggio, in the final season of his Hall of Fame career, cemented his legacy when he became the 27th player to reach 3,000 hits with a seventh-inning single off Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook. Biggio was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double, but that didn’t diminish the celebration before a sellout crowd of 42,537.
Biggio singled to center in the third inning for hit 2,998, beat out an infield single in the fifth for hit No. 2,999 and lined a single into right-center field for his 3,000th hit in the seventh. Biggio’s family and long-time teammate, Jeff Bagwell, came onto the field to acknowledge the moment.
“I wanted it to happen at home,” Biggio said. “For the integrity of the game, you let the chips fall where they may. But the right thing happened, and we were able to get it done, and anybody who had a ticket that night got to enjoy it, and the people at home got to enjoy it. Like I said, 20 years playing here and to be able to give that back to the fans is a pretty cool thing.”
Biggio didn’t stop at 3,000. He singled to right field in the ninth inning for his fourth hit of the game and he singled again in the 11th to cap off a 5-for-6 night. Carlos Lee finished the night with a walk-off grand slam, scoring Biggio to win the game. The grand slam proved to be only a sidebar to a night that belonged to No. 7.
4. 2017 ALCS clincher
Oct. 21, 2017
Only four years after losing a club-record 111 games, the Astros returned to the World Series for the second time in franchise history by beating the Yankees, 4-0, in Game 7 of the ALCS. The home team won all seven games in the series.
Solo homers by Evan Gattis in the fourth and Jose Altuve in the fifth got the Astros going, and Brian McCann’s two-run double in the fifth made it 4-0. Charlie Morton (five innings) and Lance McCullers Jr. (four innings) combined to shut out the Yankees, with McCullers throwing 24 consecutive curveballs to end the game.
"It's something special, man," shortstop Carlos Correa said. "It's like, 'We're going to the World Series.' It's something you think of and dream of as a little kid, and now it's real."
5. Burke's walk-off to beat Braves
Oct. 9, 2005
Chris Burke hit a walk-off home run in the 18th inning to cap an epic Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series, sending the Astros past the Braves, 7-6, in five hours, 50 minutes and into the NLCS. The Astros advanced to the World Series, where they were swept by the White Sox, but Burke’s homer was the greatest moment in Minute Maid Park history at the time.
“It’s just one of those moments you never could appreciate it for what it has become in the moment that it happened,” Burke said. “I think every time I watch it, I’m more and more grateful to have been able to have a moment like that than I ever could have been as a 25-year-old living it in real time. … Just really grateful to have been a part of that Astros team and play with so many great players.”
6. Biggio’s final game
Sept. 30, 2007
A crowd of 43,823 packed Minute Maid Park to watch Craig Biggio play in his 2,850th and final game, ending a 20-year career in an Astros uniform. Batting second and playing second base, Biggio went 1-for-4 with a first-inning double, extending his record for most doubles by a right-handed hitter to 668 (since broken by Albert Pujols). It was his 3,060th and final career hit.
After Biggio grounded out in the seventh inning, he received a huge ovation heading to the dugout. Biggio went to second base to start the eighth but was removed before the inning started. A teary-Biggio waved to the crowd as he walked to his teammates standing outside the dugout, shaking hands along the way. He later made a lap around the ballpark to thank the fans.
7. First game, post-Harvey, 2017
Sept. 3, 2017
In their first games back in Houston following Hurricane Harvey, which caused widespread destruction and flooding in the Houston area, the Astros swept a doubleheader from the Mets. In a pregame ceremony that preceded Game 1 of the doubleheader, volunteers unfurled the U.S. and Texas flags and Houston mayor Sylvester Turn and Astros manager A.J. Hinch addressed the crowd.
“We want to thank everyone in the city of Houston that’s doing something good for somebody else,” Hinch said. “We wear this [Houston Strong] patch on our jersey to represent you.”
The crowd of 30,319 fans included 5,000 storm refugees who were staying at the convention center a few blocks away.
8. First World Series game played in Texas
Oct. 25, 2005
The first World Series game played in Texas -- Game 3 in 2005 -- didn’t start without controversy. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig forced the Astros to open the retractable roof, which the club believed would hurt its home-field advantage. The Astros and White Sox then played five hours, 41 minutes under the stars, with the White Sox winning, 7-5, in 14 innings to take a 3-0 series lead.
Former Astros infielder Geoff Blum became an unlikely hero for the White Sox when he hit a solo homer to right field in the 14th inning off reliever Ezequel Astacio. The teams combined to use 17 pitchers (nine for the White Sox, eight for the Astros), throwing a total of 482 pitches, and walking 21 batters (a dozen by Chicago, nine by Houston); 43 players were used (the White Sox used 22 and the Astros used 21), and 30 men were left on base (15 for each team).
9. Astros clinch third AL pennant in five years Oct. 22, 2021
After suffering a blowout loss to the Red Sox in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in Boston, putting their season in peril, the Astros reeled off three wins in a row to win the series, capped by a 5-0 win in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. With that, the Astros clinched their third World Series berth in five seasons.
“We talked, and we said, ‘We have to play better. This is not good enough,’” Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said. “And we showed up and we showed we can make adjustments on any given day. The pitching staff, they threw strikes, they pounded the zone, they limited the walks, and that was the key for us to win the series.”
Astros rookie starter Luis Garcia, throwing 97-mph gas, set the tone for 5 2/3 innings, not allowing a hit until his final batter, and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez went 4-for-4 and hit an ALCS-record .522 (12-for-23) en route to being named a unanimous ALCS MVP. Kyle Tucker hit a three-run homer in the eighth.
10. Jeff Kent walk-off homer in Game 5 of 2004 NLCS Oct. 18, 2004
At the time, it went down as one of the biggest home runs in the history of the Astros, and for the man who provided the moment—second baseman Jeff Kent—it was a memory of a lifetime. Kent’s three-run home run off Jason Isringhausen in the bottom of the ninth rocked Minute Maid Park and sent the Astros to a 3–0 win against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the 2004 National League Championship Series.
The Astros took a 3–2 series lead over the Cardinals before losing Games 6 and 7 in St. Louis. Still, Kent’s walk-off homer remains an indelible image in Astros lore.
“There were pictures of me coming from third base to home plate, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited in my whole baseball career, even in the World Series [with the San Francisco Giants in 2002],” Kent said. “I guess I got ahead of myself because I thought we were going to win and go to the World Series. We didn’t, and it was humbling knowing we lost against St. Louis a few days later.”
Cardinals starter Woody Williams, a Houston native, threw seven scoreless innings and allowed one hit, and bulldog Astros starter Brandon Backe tossed eight scoreless innings and allowed one hit. Each walked two batters and struck out four. Facing Isringhausen to start the ninth, Carlos Beltran singled and stole second base with one out.
The Cardinals intentionally walked Lance Berkman to face Kent, who clubbed the first pitch he saw high over the left-field wall for the game winner. The picture of Kent approaching home plate with a huge smile on his face is one of the most unforgettable images of the Astros’ magical playoff runs in 2004 and ’05. “I was thinking, ‘Drive the ball deep,’” Kent said. “I knew I was going to get something good early in the count. They had walked Berkman in front of me, and I had been used to that because they would walk Barry Bonds a lot of times in front of me, too, [with the Giants].”