Astros beat Braves to stay alive in the World Series
Published 1:11 am Monday, November 1, 2021
ATLANTA (AP) — Just in time, Carlos Correa and the Houston Astros broke out the bats.
Because if they had waited any longer, this World Series would’ve been over.
Staggered by Adam Duvall’s grand slam in the first inning, Correa and Alex Bregman ended their slumps in a hurry. They kept swinging, refusing to let their season slip away and rallying past the Atlanta Braves 9-5 early Monday to cut their Series deficit to 3-2.
The Braves might not admit it was a deflating defeat, their 66-year-old manager Brian Snitker is too steady and savvy for that. But by any measure in the Analytics Age, this had to sting.
Correa, moved up to third in the lineup for Game 5 while Bregman was dropped to seventh, delivered three hits. Martin Maldonado found three different ways to drive in runs and pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez blooped a two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning for a 7-5 lead.
A matchup of bullpens turned into the first high-scoring game of this Fall Classic, and the highest-scoring team in the majors this year won it.
Couldn’t hold down the Astros forever, a parade of Braves pitchers found out as the clock passed midnight and the calendar flipped to November.
Correa gained attention earlier this postseason for marking big hits by pointing at his wrist, where a watch might be. His time, he said.
The star shortstop doubled and singled twice, driving in two runs. His single in the eighth inning padded the lead and as Altuve got congrats in the dugout after scoring, the Fox TV mics picked up someone on the bench yelling “It’s time!”
A night earlier, the Astros went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss. That left Correa at 2 for 14 overall in the series and Bregman worse at 1 for 14.
Atlanta had been 7-0 at home in the postseason, and a boisterous crowd inside Truist Park and packed plaza outside came early hoping to celebrate a long-awaited championship.
Duvall’s slam sent a dozen Braves careening from the dugout, a full-out frenzy of hollering, twirling and dancing.
But any victory party was premature, even after Freddie Freeman’s long homer put Atlanta ahead 5-4.
Instead, manager Dusty Baker’s club hushed the fans and the Braves, pulling off a big comeback to stay afloat.
Now, the Astros need an even bigger one to win it all.
Game 6 is Tuesday night in Houston.
No team has clinched a World Series at home since the 2013 Red Sox. For Jose Altuve and the Astros to do it, they must win twice at Minute Maid Park — the last club to overcome a 3-1 Series deficit was the Cubs against Cleveland in 2016.
Down 4-0 after Duvall tagged Framber Valdez, the Astros began to chip away against Tucker Davidson.
Davidson wasn’t even on the postseason roster a week ago. Relaxing at a hotel in the Atlanta suburbs, chowing down a takeout salad from The Cheesecake Factory, the rookie saw Game 1 starter Charlie Morton get hurt and joined the Braves the next day in Houston.
It made for a cute story, but Houston was buying.
Bregman hit an RBI double that ended the Astros’ rut with runners in scoring position and Maldonado — 4 for 41 in the postseason at that point — followed with a sacrifice fly that pulled them to 4-2.
An error by shortstop Dansby Swanson helped Houston tie it in the third. Altuve reached on the misplay and Michael Brantley walked, ending Davidson’s day. Correa greeted reliever Jesse Chavez with an RBI double and a run-scoring grounder by Yuli Gurriel made it 4-all.
Freeman untied it moments later, connecting for a 460-foot home run that matched the longest of his career.
But having finally gotten loose at the plate, the Astros weren’t going quietly on this night.
Singles by Correa and Gurriel and a two-out intentional walk to Bregman loaded the bases in the fifth. Lefty reliever A.J. Minter lost Maldonado for a walk that tied it, and Gonzalez singled for the lead.
Maldonado added an RBI single in the seventh and Correa extended the lead the next inning.
José Urquidy pitched an inning for his second win of the season. Minter took the loss.
IN A PINCH
Astros right-hander Zack Greinke got the first pinch-hit by an American League pitcher in World Series history, lining a single in the fourth. He also got a hit when he started Game 4.
The previous hit by a pinch-hitting pitcher in the Series came way back in 1923 by Jack Bentley of the New York Giants. Bentley had two of them against the Yankees in that matchup after batting .427 during the regular season.
Braves: LHP Max Fried would be fully rested for Game 6. He was hit hard in Game 2, his second consecutive shaky start after an excellent season.
Astros: RHP José Urquidy was in line for Game 6, but he pitched an inning in relief Sunday night and Baker said Houston would likely go with rookie Luis Garcia on three days’ rest.
A list of players who hit home runs in their first World Series at-bat:
Jorge Soler, Atlanta Braves, 2021
Michael A. Taylor, Washington Nationals, 2019
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals, 2019
Eduardo Nunez, Boston Red Sox, 2018
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers, 2018
Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers, 2017
Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies, 2008
Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, 2007
Bobby Kielty, Boston Red Sox, 2007
Geoff Blum, Chicago White Sox, 2005
Mike Lamb, Houston Astros, 2005
David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, 2004
Troy Glaus, Anaheim Angels, 2002
Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants, 2002
x-Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves, 1996
Fred McGriff, Atlanta Braves, 1995
Ed Sprague, Toronto Blue Jays, 1992
Eric Davis, Cincinnati Reds, 1990
Bill Bathe, San Francisco Giants, 1989
Jose Canseco, Oakland Athletics, 1988
Mickey Hatcher, Los Angeles Dodgers, 1988
Jim Dwyer, Baltimore Orioles, 1983
Bob Watson, New York Yankees, 1981
Amos Otis, Kansas City Royals, 1980
Doug DeCinces, Baltimore Orioles, 1979
Jim Mason, New York Yankees, 1976
x-Gene Tenace, Oakland Athletics, 1972
Don Buford, Baltimore Orioles, 1969
Mickey Lolich, Detroit Tigers, 1968
Jose Santiago, Boston Red Sox, 1967
Brooks Robinson, Baltimore Orioles, 1966
Don Mincher, Minnesota Twins, 1965
Roger Maris, New York Yankees, 1960
Elston Howard, New York Yankees, 1955
Dusty Rhodes, New York Giants, 1954
George Selkirk, New York Yankees, 1936
Mel Ott, New York Giants, 1933
George Watkins, St. Louis Cardinals, 1930
Joe Harris, Washington Senators, 1925
Chick Fewster, New York Yankees, 1921