The last ride of Houston's Killer B's

The Killer B's era of the Houston Astros didn't end in 2005. They made an incredible, forgotten run at the end of 2006 that nearly got them back to the playoffs.

Before the Houston Astros began this incredible run to the World Series, the only era worth remembering for many fans of the franchise was when the "Killer B's" defined them.

The players most associated with that nickname were Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Lance Berkman, with other players like Derek Bell, Chris Burke and even Carlos Beltran joining the mix.

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The apex of that run was a two-year span from 2004 to 2005 where the Astros appeared in the NLCS both years and won the pennant in 2005, advancing to the World Series, where they were swept by the Chicago White Sox but only outscored by a combined six runs in those four games.

Aside from Biggio getting his 3,000th hit in 2007, his last season, nobody really remembers anything about the Killer B's after their run to the World Series in 2005.

But in 2006, they made one last special run that Astros fans that got to see in in person will remember for the rest of their lives.

On September 21, 2006, the Astros began a four-game series with the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals. Houston was eight games behind the eventual World Series champions and even with a four-game home series with the Cardinals about to begin, there was little hope that the Astros would be able to even make a push to qualify for the playoffs, let alone get in.

The Astros won the first game of the series 6-5. Lance Berkman's two home runs helped Houston complete the comeback. But then things started getting really interesting.

The next day, Houston scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th to win 6-5 as Craig Biggio got the walk-off single. Then, on September 23, another walk-off win, this time a 7-4 victory with Luke Scott hitting the game-winning homer.

The Cardinals could still salvage one win in the final game and kill Houston's momentum. But they couldn't.

The city could feel the momentum by the time the final two games happened. The last two were played on a Saturday and Sunday, allowing everyone to jump back on the bandwagon one last time and dare to dream about a return to the playoffs despite the team still having a losing record that late in the season.

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And the Astros and the last of the Killer B's gave the crowd another reason to hope, completing the sweep in front of a sell-out crowd.

It's a shame that there isn't any official Major League Baseball or Astros video that exists anywhere online of those games or that season. You used to be able to do an internet search and find the top plays archive for any team, including the Astros here, and waltz down memory lane by watching highlights for any team that spanned from April 2005 to October 2010.

I used to love looking things up in the top plays archive. Sadly, those links don't work anymore.

Many of the bigger plays are available on MLB's official website or the MLB YouTube page. But some gems haven't made it, like like Roy Oswalt's dominance in Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS to send the Astros to the World Series or Brandon Backe's eight-inning scoreless gem in Game 4 of the 2005 World Series. Houston fans can only hope that they eventually make it online somewhere if they ever want to relive those memories.

The momentum from that 2006 late-season sweep of the Cardinals didn't die after that series. Houston won its next four games to crawl above .500 while the Cardinals kept reeling.

Unfortunately, in what turned out to be a de facto three-game playoff series against the Atlanta Braves, Houston lost the first and third game. A sweep would've put them in the playoffs, while two wins out of three would've set up something unprecedented in MLB history.

If the Astros had won that last regular season game, Houston would've finished the regular season 83-79 and the Cardinals would have to make up a game against the San Francisco Giants the next day. A win against the Giants would put the Cardinals in the playoffs while a loss would mean a tiebreaker against the Astros in Houston the day after that.

But alas, it didn't happen. And it's rather ironic because teams that finish barely above .500 and have to fight to get into the playoffs usually aren't considered serious contenders for a title that season. To complete that cruel irony for Houston, the Cardinals went on to win the World Series that year.

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Biggio retired the following year as Houston finished that season 73-89. The Astros wouldn't return to the playoffs until 2015 and wouldn't win another playoff series until this season, their return to the World Series.

You'll surely see guys like Biggio and Bagwell take the field and be rightfully recognized for their greatness and all the memories they created for Houston fans throughout their careers. Hopefullly more than a few remember that crazy run at the end of 2006. The last ride of the Killer B's.