Carlos Correa and the Houston Astros got their bats out just in time.
This World Series would have been over if they had waited any longer.
After being stunned by Adam Duvall’s grand slam in the first inning, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman broke out of their slumps quickly. They continued swinging, too, refusing to let their season go away, rebounding 9-5 early Monday to trim their Series deficit to 3-2.
The Braves might not say it was a humiliating loss; manager Brian Snitker, 66, is far too solid and astute for that. This had to hurt in the Analytics Age by any standard.
“I’m simply relieved that we’ll be able to return to Houston.” Dusty Baker, the Astros’ skipper, stated, “That was our aim today.”
After being moved up to third base for Game 5, Correa went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, while Bregman was demoted to eighth. Martn Maldonado drove in three runs in three separate ways, and pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez blooped a two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning to give his team a 7-5 lead.
The first high-scoring game of the Fall Classic was a showdown of bullpens, and the highest-scoring club in the majors won it.
As the clock struck midnight and the calendar switched to November, a procession of Braves pitchers discovered that they couldn’t keep the Astros at bay indefinitely.
“In there, we’ve got a clubhouse full of terrible people.” Correa said, “And our lineup is incredibly deep.”
Correa garnered notoriety during this playoffs by pointing to his wrist, where a watch could be, to indicate significant hits. He stated that it was his time.
The talented shortstop drove in two runs with a double and a single. His RBI single in the eighth inning extended the advantage, and while Jose Altuve was receiving congratulations in the dugout after scoring, the Fox TV microphones picked up someone on the bench saying, “It’s time!”
The Astros had gone 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss the night before. Correa now has a record of 2 for 14 in the series, while Bregman has a record of 1 for 14.
“We discussed before the game and said, ‘We’re not going to give up,'” Correa added. “We’re going to battle out there.”
Atlanta had gone 7-0 in the playoffs at home, and a raucous crowd inside Truist Park and a crowded plaza outside arrived early to celebrate the city’s first title since 1995.
“It doesn’t matter where we win the World Series,” Snitker remarked. “I would have preferred to do it in front of our fans.” Hopefully, we’ll be able to finish it in the next few days.”
A dozen Braves were sent careening from the dugout after Duvall’s slam, yelling, whirling, and dancing.
“We were ecstatic. We were ecstatic, like you do when you score home runs, but it was a long game. That occurred in the bottom of the first inning. They didn’t quit in a nine-inning game,” Duvall said.
Even after Freddie Freeman’s mammoth home run put Atlanta up 5-4, any celebration seemed premature.
Instead, the Astros silenced those supporters and the Braves, pulling off a major comeback to keep their season alive.
The Astros now need an even larger one to win the World Series.
Game 6 will take place in Houston on Tuesday night.
Since the 2013 Red Sox, no club has won the World Series at home. To do so, Altuve and the Astros must win both games at Minute Maid Park – the last team to come back from a 3-1 Series deficit was the Cubs against the Indians in 2016.
Only once in the history of the World Series has a club facing elimination staged a larger comeback. The Angels scored five runs in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series against a Giants squad coached by Baker.
The Astros continued to chip away at surprise starter Tucker Davidson after Duvall tagged Framber Valdez for a 4-0 lead.
A week ago, the youngster wasn’t even on the postseason roster. He witnessed Game 1 starting Charlie Morton get hurt while relaxing at a hotel in the Atlanta suburbs, eating a takeaway salad from The Cheesecake Factory, then joined the Braves the next day in Houston.
Although that made for a charming narrative, Houston was not convinced.
Bregman got things started with an RBI double that broke the Astros’ runless streak with runners in scoring position, and Maldonado — who had gone 4 for 41 in the postseason at the time — followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.
Shortstop makes a mistake. In the third, Dansby Swanson assisted Houston in tying the game. Michael Brantley walked when Altuve reached on the misplay, ending Davidson’s day. Correa led off reliever Jesse Chavez with an RBI double, and Yuli Gurriel’s run-scoring grounder tied it 4-all.
Freeman broke the deadlock seconds later, blasting for a 460-foot home run, his largest of the season.
The Astros, though, were not going quietly on this night after finally getting loose at the plate.
In the fifth inning, singles by Correa and Gurriel, as well as a two-out intentional walk to Bregman, loaded the bases. A.J. Minter, a lefty reliever, walked Maldonado to tie the game, and Gonzalez singled to take the lead.
In the seventh inning, Maldonado added an RBI single, and Correa increased the advantage the next inning.
José Urquidy earned his second win of the Series with a scoreless inning in relief, becoming the first pitcher since Randy Johnson of Arizona in 2001 to win as a starter and reliever in the same Fall Classic.
To finish it off, Phil Maton pitched two shutout innings and Kendall Graveman did the same.
Minter was defeated.