A failed strategy that could cost the Braves a championship in the World Series


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A failed strategy that could cost the Braves a championship in the World Series

ATLANTA – The bullpen, one of the main reasons the Atlanta Braves are one win away from winning the World Series, failed to retain the lead twice in Game 5 of the Fall Classic on Saturday, in the final game of the year at Truist Park.

Puerto Rican wide receiver Martín Maldonado drove in multiple runs in a playoff game for the first time in his career and Venezuelan Marwin González pushed the laps into the lead with a pinch single in the fifth inning as the Houston Astros emerged 9-for-5 and stay alive in the fall classic.

Atlanta, which lost for the first time in eight home games in the playoffs, still dominates the World Series 3-2, but now the event returns to the Astros’ Minute Maid Park for a sixth game on Tuesday and, if necessary. , a seventh and decisive, on Wednesday.

Outfielder Adam Duvall hit a bases-loaded home run in the first inning against Dominican left-hander Framber Valdez to spark a gigantic celebration, inside and outside Truist Park, that sold all its seats for the third day in a row and that had a gigantic human mass in the surroundings before and during the crash.

Duvall has hit two home runs in the World Series, both against Valdez, the first in the third inning of Game 1 at Houston.

But the Astros reacted immediately. In the second inning, against starter Tucker Davidson, 3B Álex Bregman doubled to drive Cuban 1B Yuli Gurriel and Maldonado plate CF Kyle Tucker with a sacrifice fly. Bregman’s hitting hit snapped a 17-at-no-hit streak with runners in scoring position for Houston.

In the third, against reliever Jesse Chávez, Puerto Rican SS Carlos Correa produced a double lap and Gurriel tied 4-4 on a ground ball that pushed RF Michael Brantley.

The tie was held just until intermission, as 1B Freddie Freeman began the close of the third inning by hitting Valdez with a 460-foot home run, the longest he has hit all year and the most distance he has achieved in his career. , tying with another that hit the St. Louis Cardinals in October 2019.

Now Freeman has eight career postseason home runs (half this year) and six have given the Braves the lead, beating 3B Chipper Jones in that line.

Valdez, who pitched eight innings of a career in the Astros’ penultimate win over the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, allowed 12 hits (4 home runs) and 10 runs in 4.2 innings in two Classic appearances. of Autumn.

Dominican reliever Yimi Garcia took the last out of the third and Mexican Jose Urquidy, who started and won Game 2, pitched in the fourth to establish some order and give his offense a chance to come back later.

In the fifth, with left-hander AJ Minter pitching for Atlanta, Correa and Gurriel singled and, with two outs, manager Brian Snitker intentionally walked to load the bases and face the weak Maldonado, who started the game hitting 41- 4 with two RBIs in the playoffs.

But the strategy failed when Minter also walked Maldonado to tie the score at 5-5, pocketing the pinch-hitter for pitcher Urquidy. Gonzalez hit a center-field hit that produced two runs to put Houston ahead (7-5) for the first time of the night.

Gonzalez did not play in the early playoff rounds and was 2-0 in the World Series.

“I was expecting that,” said Maldonado, who was placed at ninth bat the day before, behind pitcher Zack Greinke. “I always like to prepare, to be ready for a guy who has been tough throughout the series, has been pitching very well. He was not going to swing to get a strike,” added the Puerto Rican.

“It was kind of trying to be patient. I know he has a good cut fastball. He’s been amazing this year so far with that pitch,” said Maldonado, who was 3-for-1 with three RBIs.

“He had to work really hard. It didn’t work out. We took that risk to see if we could keep the game under control and go from there because we felt like he was our best option in that situation, especially with Brantley close to going to the plate,” the manager said. from Atlanta, Brian Snitker.

While the Astros bullpen ran 6.1 scoreless innings, the Braves’, basically working the game nearly full for the second day in a row, allowed five runs in seven innings. Urquidy (2-0) was the winning pitcher and Minter (0-1) the defeated.

“When we won yesterday, it made it easier, I guess, to get into this one, but we knew it was going to be tough. That’s a lot of innings to cover against a team like that that hits so well,” Snitker said. “The good news is that we will take a day off and will be in good shape by Tuesday,” he added.

The Braves, one of three teams that have blown 3-1 leads in a series more than once, including last year, will try to avoid becoming the first to do so in straight years. All-star left-hander Max Fried, who was hit free by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Astros in his last two appearances, will start Tuesday in Houston.

“You know, I always feel good when Max pitches. He always gives you a chance to win. Like I say, our bullpen is in good shape. Max is fully rested, and we should be ready to hit the field,” Snitker said.

INSIDE THE WORLD SERIES

EN 3-2 SERIES: This is the 69th time the World Series has been 3-2. In the 68 previous occurrences, the team in advantage has won 45 times (66.2%). Additionally, the lead club has completed the work in the sixth game 26 times (38.2%). But that’s the case for eight of the last 16 times (2020 Los Angeles Dodgers, 2013 Boston Red Sox, 2009 New York Yankees, 2003 Florida Marlins, 1996 Yankees, 1995 Atlanta Braves, and 1992 Toronto Blue Jays. ).

The Braves are 3-2 for the fifth time. They won two and lost two of the previous four. Houston is 2-3 in the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Braves finished the postseason 7-1 at Truist Park, failing to tie the record for straight home wins in the playoffs, which was eight between the 1995 and 1996 playoffs.

Home teams are 24-12 in the 2021 MLB playoffs.

ATTENDANCE: Game 5 was attended by 43,122 fans. It was the third house in a row at Truist Park’s debut in a fall classic. In general, the 2021 World Series has been attended by 214,803 in five games, an average of 42,960 per day.


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