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The bombing continued the following year as the same five Astros delivered 16 or more homers . But the run production tapered off. Houston scored 27 fewer runs even though they played nine more games. Lee May paced the team with 28 homers, including three in one game against the San Diego Padres on June 21st, and 105 RBIs. Cesar Cedeno batted .320, pounded 25 homers and swiped a club record 56 bases. Bob Watson hit at a .312 clip and drove in 94 runs. Doug Rader drilled 21 long balls and drove home 89 runs. Jim Wynn contributed 20 homers despite a season-long slump.

Tommy Helms and Roger Metzger, though lacking in the power numbers, both hit .250 or above and displayed solid defensive work around second base. Metzger led the National League with 14 triples. Helms provided clutch hits like the two-run single that completed a 9-7 comeback win in Montreal on July 8th.

The only major change to the lineup was an illness that forced catcher Johnny Edwards to sit. Skip Jutze, acquired from St. Louis during the off-season with Johnny Bench-like raves, filled in well behind the plate but he hit just .223 with no homers while standing next to it.

It was the pitching that faltered. Larry Dierker and Tom Griffin both missed substantial time with injuries. Don Wilson struggled and spent time in the bullpen. Dave Roberts (17 wins) and Jerry Reuss (16 wins) stepped up to lead the staff. Ken Forsch and J.R. Richard took turns in the rotation. Richard got his first big league shutout against the Dodgers on August 1st. The bullpen was a mess, with nobody earning more than six saves.

Leo Durocher complained about the modern ballplayer, took ill during midseason, and decided that retirement wasn't such a bad idea. Nobody knew it at the time, but the season finale in Atlanta would be the last of his Hall-Of-Fame career. The stadium was packed on September 30th but it wasn't to say goodbye to Leo. After a blast against Reuss in the previous game, Hank Aaron was one homer shy of Babe Ruth's career home run record. Many VIPs, including Gov. Jimmy Carter, came to see Aaron tie and maybe break baseball's most hallowed mark. Dave Roberts "held" Aaron to three singles and Houston won, 5-3. Durocher went out as a winner with his club finishing 82-80, even though they had slid back to fourth place.

By Astro Daily
 

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Tagged:
Babe Ruth, Bob Watson, Cesar Cedeno, Dave Roberts, Don Wilson, Hall of Fame, Hank Aaron, Houston Astros, J.R. Richard, Jerry Reuss, Jim Wynn, Johnny Bench, Johnny Edwards, Ken Forsch, Larry Dierker, Lee May, Leo Durocher, Roger Metzger, Skip Jutze, Tom Griffin, Tommy Helms

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