AP Photo/John Bazemore
The Houston Astros aren’t done yet.
Houston defeated the Atlanta Braves 9-5 in Sunday’s Game 5 of the World Series at Truist Park. Carlos Correa, Martin Maldonado and the bullpen led the way for the victors, who still trail 3-2 in the series but can capture the championship if they win the next two games at home.
Home runs from Adam Duvall and Freddie Freeman weren’t enough for the Braves, who dropped a home game for the first time in these playoffs.
Notable Player Stats
- Carlos Correa, SS, HOU: 3-for-5, 2 RBI, 1 R
- Martin Maldonado, C, HOU: 1-for-3, 3 RBI, 1 BB
- Yuli Gurriel, 1B, HOU: 3-for-5, 2 R, 1 RBI
- Adam Duvall, CF, ATL: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R
- Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
Houston’s Bullpen Saves Day and Season
Houston needed a quick start Sunday to silence a raucous crowd that sensed the championship moment from the opening pitch.
So much for that.
Duvall wasted no time playing the role of early hero and launched a grand slam in the first inning. It was more of the same for Framber Valdez, who also struggled in Game 1. He gave up five runs in 2.2 innings in Game 5 and made things worse for the visitors by allowing a solo homer to Freeman in the third inning right after they battled back to tie the game at four.
The only chance for the Astros was a strong showing from the bullpen after Valdez’s start, and the collective was up to the task.
Yimi Garcia cleaned up Valdez’s mess in the third, Jose Urquidy threw a scoreless fourth, and Phil Maton worked the fifth and sixth innings without giving up a run. He retired Eddie Rosario with a runner in scoring position at one point and eventually gave way to Ryne Stanek, who pitched a scoreless seventh.
It was a brilliant showing from the middle relievers following a start from Valdez that could have very well ended Houston’s season. By the time Kendall Graveman entered the game in the eighth, the American League representative had a comfortable four-run lead.
Graveman put the finishing touches on the impressive comeback victory that was only possible because of the bullpen’s overall effort.
Astros Offense Finally Comes Alive
The biggest storyline coming into Game 5 was Atlanta’s decision to start Tucker Davidson, who had a grand total of five career appearances on his resume before taking the place of the injured Charlie Morton on the roster.
The 25-year-old made four starts this year with the last one coming in June. He had the chance to be an unlikely World Series hero, especially when his offense staked him to a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
Davidson missed his chance, though, and gave up four runs in two-plus innings. Two of the runs were unearned thanks to a Dansby Swanson error, but Houston deserves plenty of credit for erasing the 4-0 deficit so quickly thanks to RBI doubles from Alex Bregman and Correa to go with RBI from Maldonado and Yuli Gurriel.
That put Atlanta’s bullpen firmly in the spotlight, which hasn’t been a problem for much of the Fall Classic, but was with the chance to clinch the title.
Jesse Chavez wasn’t charged with any earned runs but allowed two inherited runners from Davidson to score. Then A.J. Minter gave up three runs in a critical fifth inning that saw him walk Maldonado with the bases loaded and give up a two-run single to Marwin Gonzalez in back-to-back batters.
Maldonado continued to leave his mark on the game with an RBI single off Drew Smyly in the seventh, and Correa’s RBI single off the southpaw in the eighth opened up some breathing room for the team with its back against the wall.
Houston scored a combined two runs in the first two games in Atlanta in this series. The overarching storyline was going to be the offense’s disappearance, but the Astros changed the script by coming alive Sunday.
The series shifts back to Houston for Tuesday’s Game 6.