SI Vault
 
7 Houston Astros
Craig Neff
April 06, 1987
Nolan Ryan isn't a gambler, but he went to Las Vegas in January to celebrate his 40th birthday. "Wasn't too lucky," he admits. "He told me he got sent home in his shorts," says Houston reliever Charlie Kerfeld.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 06, 1987

7 Houston Astros

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

PLAYER
KEY STATS

P

H

COMMENTS

B. DORAN
.276, 37 RBIs, 42 SBs

2B

S

Batting average vs. lefties since '82, when he broke in: .200, .220, .295, .300, .304.

B. HATCHER
.258, 36 RBIs, 38 SBs

CF

R

Batted .417 leading off innings in Late-Inning Pressure Situations.

D. WALLING
.312, 13 HRs, 58 RBIs

3B

L

Only player besides Rose with 200+ games in OF, at 3B and at 1B.

G. DAVIS
.265, 31 HRs, 101 RBIs

1B

R

Career average of 62.7 RBIs every 100 games ranks just behind Dave Winfield (62.8).

K. BASS
.311, 20 HRs, 79 RBIs

RF

S

Led NL in hits (80) and XBHs (30) off lefthanded pitchers.

J. CRUZ
.278, 10 HRs, 72 RBIs

LF

L

Career total of 2,051 games in OF trails only Reggie (2,082) among active players.

A. ASHBY
.257, 7 HRs, 38 RBIs

C

S

Ninth player in history to catch as many as three no-hitters; Ray Schalk caught four.

C. REYNOLDS
.249, 6 HRs, 41 RBIs

SS

L

Batted 138 points higher (.326-.188) with runners on than with bases empty.

M. SCOTT
18-10, 2.22 ERA

SP

R

Pitched at least seven innings in 30 starts, highest total in majors.

N. RYAN
12-8, 3.34 ERA

SP

R

Opposing hitters batted .140 after the All-Star break.

B. KNEPPER
17-12, 3.14 ERA

SP

L

Pitched a scoreless ninth all eight times he reached it. Then came Game 6.

J. DeSHAIES
12-5, 3.25 ERA

SP

L

2.51 ERA in the first three innings, 4.06 thereafter.

C. KERFELD
7 SVs, 2.59 ERA

RP

R

Opponents' career BAs: .273 by lefthanders, .196 by righthanders.

D. SMITH
33 SVs, 2.73 ERA

RP

R

Tied NL record with saves in eight straight appearances (April 11 to May 2).

Nolan Ryan isn't a gambler, but he went to Las Vegas in January to celebrate his 40th birthday. "Wasn't too lucky," he admits. "He told me he got sent home in his shorts," says Houston reliever Charlie Kerfeld.

The division-champion Astros are gambling that Ryan's tender right elbow, which put him on the disabled list twice last year, has recovered after a restful winter. Ryan rejected a doctor's proposal for Tommy John-type surgery because rehabilitation would have kept him out of a good portion of the season. If the elbow blows out now, Ryan will likely become a full-time rancher, and Houston will be in trouble. "Shoot, that guy's so competitive, I know he'll be out there fighting," says Astro first baseman Glenn Davis. "I don't care what the odds are."

Odds are Houston won't repeat; no Western Division champ has since the 1978 Dodgers. But the Astros have all the same faces in all the same places, including an excellent pitching staff headed by Cy Young winner Mike Scott, so they should at least be in the thick of the race. Trying to stay out of trouble, manager Hal Lanier spent the winter gathering advice from skippers who have had division winners turn sour on them. "Some admitted they went too easy on their players the year after," says Lanier, who hasn't.

Davis spent his off-season lifting weights and hunting deer. His description of the one that got away sounds like the Astros' frustrated pursuit of a pennant. "All winter I was looking for a deer to put over my fireplace," Davis says. "I never did see him, but I'm not going to give up. I know he's out there."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

1