Archive for Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Kent grabs spotlight

Game-winning homer fulfills wish

October 20, 2004

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— Jeff Kent flung his bat to the side and pumped his right fist as soon as the ball took flight, certain he was going to make a long-awaited trot around the bases.

He'd gone over this moment in his mind before, watching St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Boston's David Ortiz finish big postseason victories by wading into a mob of teammates at home plate.

Kent fulfilled that wish Monday night, hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Houston Astros a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the NL championship series.

"Watching those guys do what they're doing, knowing the emotions that they probably are going through," Kent said, "I wanted to be those guys. I wanted to feel like that."

The Astros have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, only a win away from their first World Series in 43 years of existence.

Overshadowed throughout the postseason by Houston's "Killer Bs" -- Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio -- Kent finally seized the spotlight with his dramatic walkoff homer, Houston's first since April 2003.

That was the longest active streak in the majors without a walkoff. Kent also had the Astros' last one.

Kent perfectly imitated those Pujols and Ortiz highlights, rounding the bases with a smile on his face before tossing his helmet in the air and jumping into the waiting arms of his teammates.

Houston's Jeff Kent (12) is greeted at home after hitting a
game-winning three-run home run against St. Louis. The Astros
defeated the Cardinals, 3-0, Monday night in Houston to take a 3-2
lead in the NL championship series.

Houston's Jeff Kent (12) is greeted at home after hitting a game-winning three-run home run against St. Louis. The Astros defeated the Cardinals, 3-0, Monday night in Houston to take a 3-2 lead in the NL championship series.

"That's the kid in me that loves to play this game," Kent said. "I want to be the other guy who's having a great time."

It was a rare display of cheerfulness from the 2000 NL MVP and four-time All-Star, who prides himself on his cool -- some might call it aloof -- demeanor on the field and in the clubhouse.

"I've struggled with my emotions at times to try to control them while I played his ballgame," Kent said. "I think I've been able to do that better now through the end of my career. I let my parents and my kids get overly excited. I try to keep an even keel."

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