ATLANTA (AP) – This Atlanta Braves could not have chosen a more convenient way to move to the edge of the world championship.
The archer who spent most of the year in the minors kept him there.
One of the hitters who came on a spree of deals won for them.
If this brave group can do it again, the Braves will earn their first title in the series in 26 years.
Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler tied for back-to-back strikes in the seventh inning on Saturday night, sending the Braves to a 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros and leading a 3-1 series.
Fifth game on Sunday night. The Braves can conclude the tournament on their home soil, just as they did two stadiums ago when they beat the Cleveland Indians in 1995.
They have certainly been strong on home soil, improving to 7-0 this post-season.
“It’s a great moment for this city,” said Swanson. “But we have another one. They have a great football club there and we can’t take anything for granted.”
That victory over a quarter century ago at old Atlanta Fulton County remains the franchise’s only World Series crown since its move to Deep South in 1966.
This is the closest Brave to a second title since.
What an unlikely crown.
The Braves tumbled at 0.500 or worse until August 6th. They had to completely rebuild their stadium before the July 30 trading deadline after Ronald Acuña Jr. fell with a knee injury and Marcel Ozuna was sidelined with a hand injury and legal issues. They’ve won the NL East with just 88 wins, the fewest of any playoff team – and even fewer than two teams not featured in the post-season.
With former President Donald Trump watching from a special box below the right line, the Braves got a boost from an unexpected player.
Kyle Wright, who had only appeared in the first round of the tournament twice, had only two major tournament appearances during a season spent mostly in Triple-A Gwinnett, through 4 2/3 playoffs after surprise starter Dylan Lee retired one hitter Just.
Wright was barely overpowered, giving up five hits — including a homer solo from Jose Altoff in the fourth inning who bet the Astros to take a 2-0 lead — and three walks. But he was constantly getting out of trouble, giving the brave a kind of hope until the crime awoke.
“He probably doesn’t realize what he did, how big he was,” Atlanta coach Brian Sneeker said. “I am very proud of the way he handled the situation.”
Wright has a career record of 2-8 with a 6.56 ERA. In two rounds of early 2021 with the Braves, he was 0-1 with a 9.95 ERA.
“Honestly, I was a little lost,” he admitted.
He found himself just in time for the brave.
In sixth place, Eddie Rosario became the first hitter in Atlanta to pass first base by a double by one from Brooks Rally.
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Rosario ended up scoring one last time after being scored by Austin Riley, who lined up single-handedly against Phil Mattoon.
The brave left the bases loaded, but they didn’t finish. Just like that, they amazingly engineered the first change in the entire series, with Swanson and Soler becoming the third duo in World Championship history to hit back-to-back teammates who equalized and put a team ahead.
The first two men to do so were named Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Facing Christian Javier, Swanson went in the opposite direction to Homer who tied the match at 2, hitting the ball so hard that it bounced off the table section of the right court stands and rolled all the way into the field.
“It was like, You know what? Let’s get rid of everything else and just compete,” said Swanson. “And you know what? Something amazing happened.”
Celebration was barely boiling when Soler, one of the four players to have been awarded deals by general manager Alex Antopoulos, rose to the podium as a pirate hitter.
On a 2-1 course from Javier, Soler put a charge into a hanging slider and drove it to the Bullpen Astros at the left. Jordan Alvarez was left hanging helplessly over the short fence as the ball floated over his head.
Luke Jackson worked out a goalless eighth, taking a great shot from Rosario hitting the same left-field wall as Soler, and Will Smith working ninth 1-2-3 for his sixth block in six chances this post season.
The Astros could only kick themselves to waste a myriad of chances, dropping no hits in eight hits with the sprinters in the scoring and leaving 11 at base overall.
“They were playing really hard with us. They were playing really hard with us,” said manager Dusty Becker. “We’ve had our backs against the wall before. Our guys know what they’re doing.”
Seven teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Championship, most recently in 2016.
The brave know for sure that it’s not over yet. Last year, they missed a 3-1 lead in the NL Championship and lost to the Dodgers.
Houston got what he wanted from 38-year-old star Zach Greinke, who threw four goal-free runs.
The bulls couldn’t hold it.
Now, there is no room for error.
“Just basically focus on one match at a time. If we win tomorrow, try to win match 6 and see what happens,” Altuve said. But we have to focus on one match, and that match is tomorrow.”