HOUSTON -- Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt signed one-day contracts and officially retired as Astros on Saturday. Berkman and Oswalt were drafted by the Astros a year apart and came up through the minors together before Berkman made his major league debut in 1999 and Oswalt followed less than two years later. "Its an honour to come back here and retire as an Astro," Oswalt said. "Lance and I both came up through the organization about the same time. We got to play together for a long time. The best thing about Houston was that it was always home. I know Im speaking for myself, but I went to Philadelphia, Texas and Colorado afterwards, but Houston has always been home." Berkman said it was special to play for an organization that had the tradition the Astros did. "We all kind of felt like we were all part of the Astros family," Berkman said. "Thats what made this, in my opinion, a special place to be. They made a conscious effort to draft guys, develop them and keep them here for a long time." As part of the pregame ceremony to celebrate the two players, a video played with comments from Nolan Ryan, Jake Peavy, Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols and former teammates Brad Ausmus, Andy Pettitte, Craig Biggio and Adam Everett. Both players were given multiple standing ovations by the crowd at Minute Maid Park and presented with their framed 2005 World Series jerseys along with personalized rocking chairs and Stetson hats. It was also announced that the two Texas flags flying at the State Capital in Austin on Saturday would be framed and given to the two players. Oswalt, the MVP of the 2005 NLCS, ranks second in wins and strikeouts in franchise history. Oswalt went 2-0 mark with a 1.29 ERA in the Astros six-game series win over St. Louis and was the starter and winner of the Astros Game Six series-clinching win at Busch Stadium. Berkman spent 12 of his 15 seasons in the majors with the Astros after being Houstons first pick in the 1997 draft out of Rice. For his career, he hit .293 in 1,879 games with 366 home runs and 1,234 RBIs with a .406 on-base percentage and a .537 slugging percentage. Oswalt finished his 13-season career with a 163-102 record in 365 appearances -- 341 starts -- with a 3.36 ERA. Oswalt, a three-time All Star, reached 20 wins in 2004 and 2005 and was a 19-game winner in 2002. After being selected by the Astros in the 23rd round of the 1996 draft, Oswalt was called up to the majors in 2001, finishing that season with a 14-3 record in 28 appearances -- 20 starts -- with a 2.73 ERA. "You always wonder when it will be your last year," Oswalt said. "My goal when I first started was to play 10 years. I felt that if you play 10 solid years in the big leagues, you have had a solid year, and I got to play 13. I feel like some days I can still play. 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LOUIS -- Known for his game-managing and defensive skills, Yadier Molina made another statement with his bat.GLENDALE, Ariz. - Shane Doan stood in front of his stall scowling, the crimson in his cheeks as much from the anger inside as the physical toll from 60 minutes of give-it-all-you-got hockey. His answers were terse, key words repeated for emphasis. Once he was done with the short interview session, Doan put his head down and marched toward the back locker room in quick, purposeful steps, the rage seeming to build as he went along. Faced with a must-win game in a season that was starting to slip away, the Phoenix Coyotes fell flat, losing to the team with the NHLs worst record — at home, no less. It was more than the Coyotes captain could take. "I dont even know what our level is because were barely above average right now, if average," Doan said after the Coyotes lost 3-2 to Buffalo on Thursday night. "Its not acceptable. Not even close." The loss continued a downward spiral for the Coyotes. Playing with an owner for the first time in four years, Phoenix opened 14-4-3 for the second-best start for a franchise that started in Winnipeg in 1979. Since then, inconsistency has reigned. Once a team that relied on its grittiness and defence-first mindset, Phoenix has instead become a team that has been caught in a back-and-forth struggle, winning some games by outscoring opponents, others by occasionally getting back to its stay-at-home roots. Phoenix had a stretch with one win in six games at the start of 2014 and has lost four of six after the setback against the last-place Sabres Thursday night in the second game of a critical five-game homestand. Once in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, the Coyotes are ninth in the West with 60 points, three behind Vancouver. "It is frustrating," said Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette, who has eight goals in eight games and a six-game points streak. "You dont want to look too far (ahead) in your schedule, but we know our situation." Whaat made the loss to Buffalo harder to swallow was that the Coyotes had seemed to get back into their defence-and-counter groove Tuesday night against Los Angeles.dddddddddddd Playing arguably its best game of the season, Phoenix limited most of the rival Kings chances to the outside, generated numerous good scoring chances and went on to win 3-0 behind backup goalie Thomas Greiss second shutout in three starts. To keep climbing up the standings, or at least maintain their positioning, all the Coyotes had to do was knock off the Sabres, who came into the game with the fewest wins (14), points (36) and goals (101) in the NHL. Phoenix got off to a solid start, out-shooting Buffalo 21-12 in the first period. The Sabres ended up scoring first, but the Coyotes rallied with two goals in a span of 18 seconds of the second period to go up 2-1. After that, the Coyotes sat back, almost as if they were waiting out the win instead of going to get it. A series of turnovers led to two goals for the Sabres, putting them up 3-2. A big push by the Coyotes in the third period led nowhere, leading to perhaps the most disheartening loss of the season and one very angry captain. "Were up 2-1 to start the second and we do absolutely nothing, nothing as a group. Absolutely nothing," Doan said. "We have a chance to put a team away when youre up 2-1 at home, and I dont think we got a shot for 12 minutes. Its embarrassing. Its embarrassing." The Coyotes still have time to turn it around. After facing a tough game against Pittsburgh on Saturday night, Phoenix plays its final three games before the Olympic break against teams still in the Western Conference playoff hunt: Chicago and Dallas twice. Once they return, the Coyotes will have 24 games left to make a push. Theyve done it in the past, including a late-season run to the conference finals in 2012. To do it again, they will have to play much better than they have lately. ' ' '
Dogcat250, 10.09.2019 03:09