The Houston Astros looked to be on their way to tying the World Series up at two games a piece. But it’s baseball, and everything can change in the blink of an eye. Or the stroke of a bat in a hitter’s hands. There were two huge swings that came in the seventh inning with the Atlanta Braves trailing. They would come back in the game to take a 3-1 series lead. They are now granted a chance to clinch in front of the Braves fans tonight in Game 5.
The Braves had to go with a makeshift starter, or “opener” in this game. Charlie Morton suffered a broken right fibula in Game 1 which required surgery. The guy who started the game on the hill, left-hander Dylan Lee, got the call that he was starting late Friday night. Ultimately, Lee only lasted one out into the game, as he loaded the bases on an infield single and two walks. The southpaw now has the distinction of being the pitcher with the fewest apperances in his major league career before making a World Series start. He had made four prior starts, including two in this postseason.
Kyle Wright followed Lee and allowed one of the inherited runners to score. Wright wound up goung 4 2/3 solid innings, his only blemish being a Jose Altuve homer in the fourth that put the Astros up 2-0. The Braves had no runners in scoring position until the sixth inning, when Eddie Rosario doubled with one out. Following a Freddie Freeman walk and Ozzie Albies strikeout, Austin Riley lined a single to left field that scored Rosario and make it a 2-1 game. After an intentional walk to Joc Pederson, Phil Maton avoided further damage by striking out Travis d’Arnaud.
The roof came off Truist Park in the seventh inning, after Tyler Matzek worked around a two out single in the top of the inning. Adam Duvall struck out to lead it off, and Dansby Swanson was on the ropes against Christian Javier. But down 0-2 in the count, Swanson launched one to right field to tie the game to send the Altanta faithful into oblivion. But that wasn’t all, with Jorge Soler pinch hitting for Matzek. On a 2-1 count, Soler lined an absolute missle to left field, 107 miles per hour off the bat. Despite the efforts of left fielder Yordan Alvarez, the ball was just out of the reach of his outstretched glove as he crashed into the wall.
Luke Jackson pitched a 1-2-3 eigth inning and Will Smith earned the save with a clean 1-2-3 inning of his own in the ninth. A strikeout, popout, and grounder set down the Astros to give the Braves the 3-1 series lead. Atlanta can now clinch on Halloween night, where something spooky is bound to happen.
Zack Greinke put in a tough four shutout innings while allowing just four hits and no walks and striking out three. He also had a hit of his own in the second inning, in likely his final major league at-bat. Ryne Stanek followed with a clean fifth inning while striking out one. Javier was charged with a blown save after allowing the back-to-back and eventual game-winning homers. Ryan Pressly pitched 1 1/3 innings and struck out four of the seven batters he faced. The first two were in the seventh inning after the Soler homer to hold the one run deficit. On the hitting side, Altuve had two hits including the home run and Tucker also had two hits. Brantley, Martin Maldonado, and Carlos Correa were the only other hitters besides Greinke to record a hit, and Houston left 19 runners on base.
After Wright put up the strong 4 2/3 innings, Chris Martin, Matzek, Jackson, and Smith each pitched a shutout innings. They combined to allow just two hits while walking none and striking out three. The Braves left 15 runners on base, but it was the timely homers that and clutch pitching that put them over the top. Rosario and Riley each had two hits, while Freeman, Duvall, Swanson, and Soler had one hit each. Soler leads the Braves with a .333 average (4-for-12) in the World Series. He led off Game 1 with a homer and now hit the go-ahead homer in the fourth game.
It seemed as though the Astros had grabbed the momentum in the series when they tied it a one game a piece. The bats came alive in Game 2 and one would think that would’ve carried over to Atlanta. But the Braves pitching staff proved that they are for real, after Ian Anderson and company shut them out in Game 3 before another solid performance in Game 4. Heading into Game 5, the Braves still are uncertain on who will be starting. But with as tremondous their bullpen has been, that may not matter. All they need to do is win one game over the next three. What the Astros have in their favor is that if they can force a Game 6, they will face Max Fried who they lit up for six runs in Game 2.
Date: Sunday, Oct. 31 at 8:15 p.m. EST
Stadium: Truist Park
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Astros Pitcher: Framber Valdez | 1-1, 6.35 ERA
Braves Pitcher: To Be Determined
Follow Alex Kielar on Twitter @AlexKielar
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images