This was the fourth time in franchise history the Astros had ascended to the League Championship Series. And during McLane's era, Houston has won the NL Central four times, won back-to-back Wild Card berths, and had been to the Division Series five times before finally defeating Atlanta in 2004.
Last year's defeat to the Cardinals ushered in a slew of offseason changes. General manager Jerry Hunsicker resigned and was replaced by Tim Purpura. Jeff Kent left as a free agent and signed with the Dodgers. After protracted negotiations that went into January, Carlos Beltran signed as a free agent with the Mets.McLane was chastised for allowing a good portion of the offense to leave, but his decisions were vindicated on Wednesday night. "A lot of people predicted our doom, but we just took off," he said. "It took a little time. We had that 15-30 start. Things didn't look good. But we had some young players who had to develop. Jason Lane came into his own. Jason had that huge homer [in the fourth inning] tonight. Willie Taveras never played Triple-A ball. He jumped from Double-A and look what he accomplished this year. You just look at others who got, better and better and better. "So far, it's been a great year for us. And the year isn't nearly over."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.