Starting Nine: Waiting for 18

Written by: Craig Muder

The Hall of Fame's Starting Nine includes must-see artifacts from every big league team. Check out the Astros Starting Nine online.

When Brian McCann homered off Wandy Rodríguez leading off the eighth inning of Game 4 of the Braves vs. Astros NLDS matchup on Oct. 9, 2005, Atlanta increased its already formidable lead to 6-1.

It seemed it would be only a matter of a few outs before Atlanta would force a deciding Game 5.

Ten innings later, Chris Burke – who didn’t enter the game until the 10th inning – won the longest game in postseason history with a home run, setting off a wild celebration at Minute Maid Park.

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“I almost feel guilty,” Burke told the Austin American-Statesman following the game. “The physical toll is tremendous. I’m exhausted and I only played nine innings.”

The Astros began their rally in the bottom of the eighth inning when Lance Berkman’s grand slam cut the Braves’ lead to 6-5. Then in the ninth, Brad Ausmus’ two-out home run tied the game at six.

Burke entered the game in the bottom of the 10th as a pinch-runner for Berkman, who had doubled with two outs. But Burke was stranded at second.

The teams continued to empty their bullpens, with 2005 NL earned-run average leader Roger Clemens taking the mound in the 16th inning in his first relief appearance in 21 years. Clemens pitched three scoreless innings, picking up the win when Burke hit a 2-0 pitch from Atlanta’s Joey Devine over the left field wall.

“You just keep going and going and going and now it’s almost six hours,” Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone told the Associated Press after watching a total of 553 pitches between the two teams. “Somebody’s bound to make a mistake.”

The game shattered the previous record for an extra inning postseason game, set by the Mets and Astros in Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS.

The win sent the Astros to the 2005 NLCS, where they defeated the Cardinals to advance to the World Series.

The ball hit by Burke is on display in the Museum’s Autumn Glory exhibit.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Starting Nine

The Hall of Fame's Starting Nine is a lineup of must-see artifacts from our vast collection containing tens of thousands of pieces that preserve the magical moments and memorable stories of our National Pastime. Our curators have spent countless hours hand-picking special objects from every major league team to create a lineup of pieces you simply won’t believe we have!