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.”
Once again that original MLBbro O.G. Dusty Baker stayed level through chaos and his Houston Astros came back to life after giving the Atlanta Braves a dose of reality in Game 5 of the 2021 World Series.
The Astros erased a 4-0 lead after a first inning grand slam brought them to within outs of their season ending, and came from behind to beat the Braves 9-5.
The Stros head back to H-Town with confidence that no lead is insurmountable. Houston still trails the series 3-2, but momentum seems to have returned to the Fabulous Baker Boys.
Atlanta looks like a fighter who spent a round of taking flurries to gather points but now must pick themselves up off the canvas to win one of their next two games in order to win the championship that was in their grasp for most of Sunday night.
Baker never seemed phased after it appeared the Astros grave had been prepared for burial when Adam Duval launched a first inning grand slam.
No team had ever come back from giving up a four-run shot in the first inning in history.
The first inning on Halloween was fright night in Atlanta but the O.G. ‘s toothpick swag never wavered.
“I always say, if it’s going to happen, let it happen early,” said Baker. “You don’t want it to happen in the middle of the game or toward the end of the game. The guys came through. That’s what counts.”
Down by four with the tenth man doing their controversial tomahawk chop in the stands, Baker’s deft use of his bullpen kept the game close until the lethal Houston bats woke from the offensive slumber.
Often maligned by pundits who contend he doesn’t manage a bullpen effectively, Baker used his roster masterfully to bring the series back to Minute Maid Park.
Houston struggled with runners in scoring position through the first four games of the series so Baker juggled his lineup and turned what was supposed to be a celebration into the nightmare at Truist Park.
Houston evened the game in the third inning on an RBI double by Carlos Correa (who was moved into the five hole) and a groundout by Yuli Gurriel, who was hitting eighth in the lineup. It was one of three hits for the future free agent.