Game Five of the World Series
Astros Take Game 5, Series Heads Back to Houston
Martin Maldonaldo had three RBIs and the Astros bats came alive as the Astros rallied to defeat the Braves, 9-5.
The Astros knew what they had to do early as Braves slugger Adam Duval started things off with a bang, hitting a grand slam in the first inning to make it 4-0. It was the first time since 1960 that a grand slam was hit in the first inning of a World Series.
Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa finally got out of their slumps and provided massive hits for their club. Bregman had fallen to seventh in the lineup after struggling for most of the Series. On the other hand, Correa moved up in the lineup to hopefully provide some life for the club. Boy did it ever!
Houston was unphased, even after Duval's grand slam in the first and Freddie Freeman's monstrous home run in the fifth that put the Braves up 5-4. However, this was when the Astros' bats finally woke.
With Braves lefty A.J. Minter on the mound, Martin Maldonado drove home a run to tie the game up at five. Then, Marwin Gonzalez, who came in to hit for the pitcher, drove home two with an RBI single to make it 7-5. From that point on, the Astros didn't look back.
Maldonado added more insurance in the seventh with another RBI single to make it 8-5. Correa followed it up once more with an RBI single in the eighth. After giving up five runs through four, the bullpen made up for the mistakes made by Framber Valdez.
Houston's infield finally woke up in this game. Correa and Bregman gave the team some much-needed life with a couple of RBIs, but Maldonado stole the show. His three RBIs were highly crucial for the Astros. Not to mention, Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel continued to show up for Houston this Series.
Before the game, Houston had been awful with runners in scoring position, and Atlanta came into this game having not lost at home in the postseason. The Astros didn't let that get to them, as they now head back to Houston with a chance to send the Series to a decisive game seven.
As for the Braves, this wasn't a terrible loss. If anything, they are actually in a great position to close it out on Tuesday. I know that they wanted to close it out at home, but they have to move on. Since the Boston Red Sox in 2013, no one has been able to clinch the World Series at home.
Tuesday's pitching matchup features Max Fried for the Braves and Luis Garcia for the Astros. Let's start with the Braves. If they want to win this game, they have to have a quality start from their southpaw.
Fried hasn't been great this postseason, with his start coming in game two of the WS. He went five innings but gave up six earned, which included four runs in the second inning. His last two postseason starts have been less than stellar, but I have a hunch that Fried is due for a solid start this postseason.
As for the Astros, Luis Garcia has been excellent this postseason. After failing to get out of the second inning in game two of the ALCS, Garcia has been rock-solid. Even though Garcia could not win in his last start, he gave up only one earned while going 3 2/3 innings pitched and six K's.
The strategy for the Astros remains the same: win and stay alive. For them to do that, they have to keep those bats hot. They also have to have a quality start from Garcia; you can't let the Braves' offense get into a rhythm if you are Garcia.
As for the Braves, those bats have to play a crucial factor. Austin Riley has been nothing short of spectacular in this Series. The third basemen finished with three hits in the loss on Sunday and have at least one hit in each WS game so far.
However, the critical factor for the Braves has got to be Max Fried. Fried has to give the Braves at least six quality innings if they want to win the Series in six games. If he can do that, it will be a long night for the Astros bats.
Will Houston force a game seven, or will Atlanta win their first World Series in 26 years? Only time will tell.
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Jake Klausner is covering the World Series for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for more from Jake. Follow him on Twitter @jake_klausner