There wasn’t enough toothpick swag or O.G. confidence to counter the thunder of the Atlanta Braves. Dusty Baker pushed all the right buttons in game five to bring the 2021 World Series back to Houston needing two wins to potentially seal his place as hall of fame manager.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
It was a gamble to put Game 6 of the World Series on the back of a rookie who got bombed early on during the series.
After going all in at the poker table, Luis Garcia was given the start on three days rest and lost his control.
The bullpen had spent 6.1 innings keeping them in the series in game five. Baker needed to get at least four innings from Garcia but instead he gave up three earned runs.
The formula for a game seven was compromised with no room for error and the chances of a repeat performance from Halloween were gone.
Houston’s chances to continue the Braves championship curse basically ended with a 446 foot three run homer from World Series MVP Jorge Soler that vanished behind the Crawford Boxes and over the train tracks in Minute Maid Park in the third inning.
An offensively challenged team that was already emotionally spent was done.
“We played through a lot this year, all kinds of adversity,” Baker said. “We just kind of ran out of gas pitching wise.”
Even his infectious persona of confidence that filtered through his team was gone. Baker’s eyes that found tweaks in the lineup strained to look for answers that would put pressure on Braves starter Max Fried.
Shifting the toothpick to the other side of his mouth couldn’t muster another rally as the Astros bats went back to the freezer as the American League’s most productive offense went silent.
Houston’s pitching was behind the eight ball after Lance McCullers was lost prior to game one. Atlanta’s offense crushed Houston’s pitching throughout the series at a historic pace through the entire series.
The Braves hit 11 home runs while the Astros hit two. All things considered they were fortunate the series lasted six games.
“We couldn’t keep them in the ballpark,” Baker said. “If we walked somebody it would lead to crooked number innings. Their pitching shut us down.”
Now the wheels start turning for the Astros as an organization. Baker has gone one step farther in each of his two seasons.There is clearly a love affair between Baker and his clubhouse.
With a new generation of players cleansing the stench from their previous world championship it remains to be seen whether the toothpick swag will be given the opportunity to finish the task of bringing a World Series title to Houston without the drama that came with the first one.
“I’ve still got some unfinished business,” he said. “I mean, I love these guys over here. I love the town of Houston. The fans are behind us.”