Loading scores...
Baseball Daily Dose

Astros Stave Off Elimination With Game 5 Win

by David Shovein
Updated On: November 2, 2021, 7:47 am ET

The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!

There’s no quit in these Astros.

With their backs against the wall -- in an actual must-win situation on the road in Game 5 of the World Series in Atlanta on Sunday night -- the Astros couldn’t afford to fall behind early. That’s exactly what happened though, as Framber Valdez served up a two-out grand slam to Adam Duvall in the opening inning to put the Astros in an early 4-0 hole.

That’s when they went to work. They got themselves on the scoreboard in the second inning, as American League Batting Champion Yuli Gurriel got things started with a one-out single off of Tucker Davidson. Kyle Tucker then worked a walk and Alex Bregman delivered an RBI double to make it 4-1. Light-hitting backstop Martin Maldonado followed with a sacrifice fly to make it a two-run ballgame.

After Valdez shut down the Braves in the home half of the second inning, the Astros were right back at it in the third. Jose Altuve reached on an error to begin the inning -- a ball that Dansby Swanson botched at shortstop. Michael Brantley followed with a walk to put two men on base. Carlos Correa then greeted Jesse Chavez with a run-scoring double to make it a 4-3 game. After Yordan Alvarez had filed out to left, Gurriel plated the tying run with a ground out to short.

Momentum had certainly shifted, after the Braves jumped out to an early 4-0 lead -- only to see it completely erased in a matter of two innings. They’d get it right back on their side though in the bottom of the third inning, as Freddie Freeman led off the frame by pulverizing a Valdez sinker for a mammoth 460-foot home run -- the longest home run hit by any MLB player this postseason.

Astros manager Dusty Baker went to his bench in the fourth inning, calling upon Game 4 starter Zack Greinke to pinch hit for Yimi Garcia with the bases empty and one out. Greinke responded by lining a single into right field -- the first pinch-hit base hit for any pitcher in postseason history since Jack Bentley did so twice during the 1923 World Series! (h/t Sarah Langs of MLB.com)

That’s how the game would remain, the Braves clinging to a one-run advantage, until the fifth inning. There, Carlos Correa began the inning with a single off of Braves southpaw A.J. Minter. Gurriel added a one-out single to put two men on and then both runners advanced on a ground out off the bat of Kyle Tucker. Braves manager Brian Snitker then elected to walk Alex Bregman intentionally, choosing instead to face Martin Maldonado with the bases loaded. That move backfired as Maldonado drew a rare base on balls to force in the tying run. Marwin Gonzalez -- pinch-hitting for Jose Urquidy -- then smacked the first pitch that he saw for a two-run single into left field to give the Astros a 7-5 advantage.

They’d pad that lead in the seventh inning as Kyle Tucker smacked a one-out double into the right field corner and came around to score on a two-out knock by Maldonado.

Just for good measure, they’d add on again in the eighth -- this time on a leadoff single by Jose Altuve, swipe of second base on a pickoff attempt, a ground out to get him to third and then an RBI single by Carlos Correa. That made it 9-5 and that's exactly how the game would end.

It's just the second time in MLB postseason history that a team has allowed a grand slam in the first inning and still managed to win the game -- the other coming just three weeks ago when Chris Sale served up a grand slam to Jordan Luplow in Game 2 of the ALDS and the Red Sox came back to win 14-6. (h/t Jayson Stark of The Athletic)

The series now shifts back to Houston for Game 6 on Tuesday night. Max Fried is expected to take the ball for the Braves while rookie right-hander Luis Garcia is likely to get the nod for the Astros on short rest after Jose Urquidy was used out of the bullpen in Game 5 on Sunday.

MLB Quick Hits: Kyle Seager was informed Sunday -- via an email from assistant general manager Justin Hollander -- that the Mariners would not be picking up his option for the 2022 season. While the move itself isn’t surprising, the method of informing the 33-year-old slugger after 13 years with the organization leaves something to be desired. … Astros manager Dusty Baker said after Sunday's game that rookie right-hander Luis Garcia is likely to get the start in Game 6 on Tuesday after Jose Urquidy had to be used out of the bullpen during Game 5 -- expect Urquidy to still be available though on Tuesday after throwing only 14 pitches during his inning of work on Sunday.