Where it all began

CruzAstros first-base coach Jose Cruz knew Thursday might be the last time he sees Busch Stadium, and the old facility holds special memories for Cruz.

In 1970, a then 22-year-old Cruz made his Major League debut with the Cardinals for Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst. Cruz would spent five years with the Redbirds before he was sold to the Astros following the 1974 season. It was with the Astros Cruz would spend the remainder of his 19-year career.

Cruz and bullpen catcher Stretch Suba are the only uniformed Astros employees who have been with the organization through all nine of the team’s postseason appearances.

"I have a lot of good memories of this place," Cruz said. "Back then it was (an) AstroTurf (field), not grass. Been a lot of great games here, but for me, it’s the place where I got started."

Cruz went 1-for-6 with an RBI single in Houston’s 16-inning loss to the New York Mets in Game 6 of the 1986 National League Championship Series. When asked how that game compared with Sunday’s 18-inning clinching win over Atlanta in the NLDS, Cruz didn’t have to think about his answer.

"They were both unbelievable games," Cruz said. "But (Sunday’s game) was much better because we won." — Jim Molony / MLB.com

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