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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

To Win and Tie the Series, the Astros Dunk and Dink Their Way to Victory

It had been nearly four years since the Houston Astros had tasted victory in a World Series game at Minute Maid Park, a period that included an almost inexplicable stretch of five straight losses at home in the Fall Classic. But the Astros were finally able to taste victory in the Fall Classic on Wednesday night.

Visitors to a sporting event are expected to blossom in their place of residence, whereas visiting teams are expected to fall under the clamorous inhospitality of local supporters who breathe heated hatred into their faces. However, the Astros’ most recent World Series victory came in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series, when they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers on their route to their lone title.

Afterwards, they went on to lose five World Series games in a row, including all four in their most recent series defeat to the Washington Nationals, and then Game 1 against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.

The Astros also became the first team since the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series to win a World Series game in their home field, ending the travelling club’s streak of 10 consecutive victories. However, since the 2020 World Series was hosted at a neutral location in Arlington, Texas, it did not count.

While Houston won 51 games at home during the regular season, third most in the American League, they went 4-1 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, indicating that they are capable of winning big games at Minute Maid Park. However, there has been a noticeable shift in the World Series in recent years.

However, it was far from a masterpiece. The game was sloppy and lopsided so rapidly that by the second inning, much of the tension and excitement had been extinguished. Like Game 1, this will not be remembered as a particularly memorable World Series game.

As a result of Atlanta’s poor play and a little bit of luck, Houston was able to score four runs in the bottom of the second inning, when eight hitters came to the plate and four of them scored on a slew of weakly hit but well-placed balls that vexed Atlanta starter Max Fried.

It is clear that he did not throw terribly, as shown by the fact that Atlanta Manager Brian Snitker did not bring in a relief pitcher to warm up throughout the inning. He could see that the Astros were not launching balls to the distant reaches of the stadium as they had in the previous game. Atlanta left fielder Eddie Rosario committed a throwing mistake, which contributed to the team’s inability to close the gaps in the defence.

Fried allowed five earned runs in five innings, but Snitker said he couldn’t characterise Fried’s performance as one of struggle.

Fried retired the next 10 hitters he faced before being relieved in the sixth inning after issuing walks to Yodan Alvarez and Carlos Correa and allowing a single to Carlos Correa to score. During the sixth inning, Atlanta made another mistake, this time by Albies, as Houston increased their advantage to 6-2. When Altuve hit a bases-empty home run in the eighth, it increased the advantage even more. It was his 22nd home run of the playoffs. That put him in a tie with Bernie Williams of the Yankees for second place on the all-time record, behind Manny Ramirez’s 29 home runs for the Indians, Red Sox, and Dodgers.

It is because of this that Altuve declared Game 2 a “must-win” contest. The Series will now move to Atlanta for the next three games, starting on Friday. Atlanta has won nine consecutive playoff games at its own stadium. And the past 12 teams in the World Series to fall behind by two games to none have all gone on to lose the series in their subsequent games.

Dan O'Brien
Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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