ATLANTA– After another ice cold showing from the Houston Astros offense on Saturday night, we all began to ponder out loud if Dusty’s chance at a World Series had once again slipped through his hands.
Dusty didn’t offer any excuses for the situation, but instead reiterated the faith he has in his ballclub. That faith was rewarded Sunday night, as the Astros defeated the Atlanta Braves 9-5 to force this series back to Houston for Game 6.
The Braves jumped out to a four-run, first inning lead thanks to a two-out grand slam by Adam Duvall. But unlike Saturday, the Astros were able to respond early and often.
“I was trying to figure out a way how we can chip away and get back in that game,” Baker told Ken Rosenthal on FOX TV after the victory. “But mostly, trying to figure out how to keep it at four.”
The Braves would add one additional run, but once Dusty went to his bullpen, Atlanta was held scoreless for 6 ⅔ innings.
Feeble Bats Wake Up
But there were still runs to score, and the Astros hadn’t been able to do much in that department since Game 2. Now when looking to explain such a drastic shift in offensive output, you need to look no further than the lineup.
With his team on the brink of elimination, Dusty dropped third baseman Alex Bregman to seventh and ran with his hottest six hitters at the top of the lineup. Armed with a new batting order, the Astros were able to do something we haven’t seen from them since they dismantled the Boston Red Sox last round; score runs in bunches.
The Astros scored two in the second and third, three in the fifth and two more insurance runs to end Atlanta’s postseason home win streak at eight games.
“Carlos swung the bat great, we got a big double outta Bregman and so I’m just glad we get to take it back to Houston,” said an excited Baker.
“That was our goal today, to get it back to Houston and it’s just one game at a time now.”
The way both managers handle the bullpen will be important in the final two games of this series. The key to an Astros win, however, lies in the bats. The Astros core players — from Altuve to Correa to Brantley — have to pound their way to the title, which won’t be an easy task.
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On Saturday Night, The Houston Astros blew a 2-0 lead to the Atlanta Braves in dramatic fashion and eventually fell 3-2 at Truist Park.
The victory puts the Atlanta Braves just one win away from their first World Series title since 1995.
As for the Houston Astros head honcho, it’s just more of the same.
The joy of becoming the first Black manager to capture both a National and American League Pennant has quickly subsided, and now Dusty Baker yet again finds himself one game from playoff elimination.
The Astros jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, mainly due to the heroics of Jose Altuve, who was berated with “Cheater” chants every time he stepped in the box. But even with a lead, Houston failed to deliver the kill shot early, which proved to be costly.
Houston was a disastrous 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 men on base throughout this game. Seven of those 11 men were stranded in the first three innings alone, a mistake that gave Atlanta more than enough time to battle back like they’ve done all season long.
“Usually they do, usually we pick those runners up,” said a disappointed but not defeated Dusty Baker after the game. “We left quite a few runners on base, I think we left 11 runners on base. Then we didn’t have a bunch of chances other than the first four innings.”
The first sign of trouble for the Astros came in the bottom of the 6th, when an Austin Riley single put the Braves on the board to cut their lead in half. Fortunately for Dusty, his bullpen was able to strand two runners on second and third to end the inning.
Unfortunately for Houston, that small spark carried over to the next inning, where the Braves would take the lead once and for all.
Dansby Swanson sent an 0-2 pitch high into the Cobb County sky to tie the game and then 2019 AL home run champ Jorge Soler smoke a 2-1 rocket into the left field bullpen to put the Braves up for good.
GOIN’ BACK TO BACK! 💣💣
Jorge Soler follows up Dansby Swanson’s homer with one of his own!
“Javier has been outstanding,” said Baker when asked about losing pitcher Christian Javier. “He just found too much of the plate on a two strike count to Swanson, and then he hung a breaking ball on the inside to Soler.”
Two mistakes. That’s all it took to push Dusty’s squad to the brink of elimination.
If this is truly his last shot at a World Series title — something that would be considered the crown jewel of an already exquisite baseball resume — those two pitching mistakes by Javier may echo in history forever. Or at least until next season.
But that’s baseball. Dusty’s already exceeded the expectations and executed one of the finest managerial jobs of his career considering all of the external issues he’s had to deal with while winning games on the field.
Coming into Sunday and Game 5 of the Fall Classic, the Braves have a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
They accomplished it after beating the Houston Astros, 3-2, before a loud sellout crowd at Truist Park on Saturday night.
The crowd was electric. The city is filled with excitement and hope that this will finally be the year for their Braves, who aren’t even supposed to be here. But if there is one town that shouldn’t take part in a premature celebration, it’s Atlanta.
There’s been more disappointment here than streets named Peachtree.
“They’ve been playing us very tough, very tough,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said after the game. “We have to win (Sunday).
“We’ve had our back against the wall before. The guys know what to do.”
So do the Braves in order to exercise this city’s demons. The postseason – or big games – usually don’t work for Atlanta. And we’re not solely talking about the Braves.
Don't give me that "support the national league" bullshit. Look I sure as hell hate the astros, but there's no way I'm gonna root for CHOKELANTA. Here's hoping they get swept. Kiss my Dodger loving butt.
They needed to secure just one victory in the final three games and they were World Series-bound.
It didn’t happen. Instead, the Dodgers rallied and beat them in a Game 7. It was devastating for Chokelanta, er, Atlanta.
The Braves won Game 4, 10-2, to take a commanding three- games-to-one lead.
The series looked over. But in losing the final three games, the Braves scored just seven total runs and lost the seventh and deciding game, 4-3.
It was a total heartbreak.
Chokelanta’s History of Failure
But there are even bigger choke jobs that fans in Atlanta will never be able to forget.
In Super Bowl 51, the Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots, 28-3, with just over 17 minutes to go. No team in Super Bowl had ever blown an 11-point halftime lead.
The Falcons had a 25-point lead.
The Falcons never scored again and lost, 34-28, in the only Super Bowl game ever decided in overtime.
Then there’s the 2018 College Football Playoff National Title Game. This was supposed to be a beautiful dream scenario. After all, Georgia got to play the big game in Atlanta. It was practically a home game.
The Bulldogs led 13-0 at the half and 20-7 in the second half. It all came crashing down as Alabama stormed back. At the end, freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa’s 41-yard TD pass brought another title to Tuscaloosa.
In 2012, the Falcons were in the NFC title game. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead over Colin Kaepernick’s San Francisco 49ers. The Falcons led, 24-14, at the half. But the 49ers scored 14 unanswered points to lead, 28-24.
The Falcons had a chance to win it, but Harry Douglas tripped over himself catching the football.
Had he stayed on his feet, he would have walked into the end zone. Instead, he was five yards short and so was Atlanta from making that Super Bowl.
Not to mention Harry Douglas trips on the way to a Touchdown. That was a possible 21 points left off the board that 2nd half
And the creme de la creme came in 1996 for Atlanta fans. The Braves blew out the New York Yankees in the first two games of the World Series in NYC. But went to Atlanta and lost the next three games, including Game 4 – which they led, 6-0.
The Braves lost that Series in six games.
So, Atlanta sports fans, might not want to celebrate until they get the fourth and final victory.
But if they get it on Sunday and close out the 2021 World Series, Atlanta will finally be able to turn the page on a sordid history of failure. Finally.