We just won our first World Series game since October 21, 1996.
Okay, we’ll get the bad news out of the way first. Charlie Morton took a liner off his ankle, and it turned out to be a broken bone. He was looking good, and he’s now out for the rest of the series.
It’s a tough loss, as he was our horse down the stretch. But we’ll worry about tomorrow tomorrow. The rest of the game honestly went exactly according to the scripts we all wrote in the dreams we were too superstitious to voice out loud.
The Braves jumped all over Framber Valdez from the very beginning. On a 2-0 count, Jorge Soler hit the â€” all together now â€” first ever leadoff homer in the top of the 1st inning of Game 1 of the World Series.
Then after a Freddie groundout, Ozzie nubbed an infield single, stole second, and scored on a hard-hit ball by Riley. (
It was scored a double but I’d have called it a single with the runner advancing on the play. UPDATE: I rewatched, and I had this wrong. Solid double.) 2-0 Braves.
The next inning, d’Arnaud singled, Joc Pederson singled, and Dansby hit a DEEP fly ball to dead center that probably would have been a home run if he’d hit it anywhere else or in most other parks; d’Arnaud advanced to third, then scored on a groundout by Soler. Pederson got hung up in a rundown but remembered to let the runner score first. Freddie walked and Ozzie got another infield single, but Riley stranded them, so it was just 3-0 Braves.
The next inning, Eddie Rosario singled, then Duvall hit a two-run homer, and Dusty went to the pen. (This made the Braves the first team in World Series history to score in each of the first 3 innings of Game 1.) It was 5-0 Braves, and the action slowed down as the bats more or less entered Hibernation Mode and both bullpens did their typical extraordinary work.
After Morton came out of the game, Snitker wasted no time going to his long relief ace: A.J. Minter, the man who turned all our heads with his brilliant work as the Opener in Game 5 of the NLCS last year, twirling three brilliant innings while needing just 42 pitches.
This wasn’t that. This was harder. This time, he came in during the middle of the third inning, facing the 2-3-4 hitters, and yielded an initial double before retiring the next two men. He went back out the following inning, as he clearly had a mandate to eat innings, and it was another uphill climb. He gave up a groundout followed by a double and a sharp single that actually reached the left fielder too quickly for the run to score.
On the next play, Dansby booted a groundball for the Braves infield’s first error of the postseason â€” his hand went too quick to his glove for the transfer, and while the runner would have scored anyway, the runners advanced a base. It was now 5-1, and officially dangerous territory. Then Minter got a strikeout and a popup to end the threat. He had thrown 27 pitches, but it was still only the 4th. His night wasn’t over.
He came out again in the fifth, and induced a full-count flyout from Michael Brantley, then recorded his third strikeout, and finally got the last man to fly out with his 43rd pitch of the night, his all-time career high. By the end, he looked exhausted, and he has every right to be. Snitker has used him hard.
Can’t argue with the results. The next three pitchers were exactly the men you’d expect. Luke Jackson got five huge outs in the sixth and seventh, striking out three while allowing one hit and no walks, and then he gave way to Tyler Matzek.
In the top of the eighth, our guys finally played a little smallball. Dansby had had a frustrating game at the plate, just missing a home run and then booting a ball that led to a run on the other end, but he worked a walk and then advanced to third when Jorge Soler hit a swinging bunt past the pitcher that beat the shift. Then Freddie hit a sac fly to score Dansby, who managed to evade the tag with a nifty headfirst slide â€” still, for any kids reading this blog, remember, you should still protect your shoulder and upper body and always slide feet first. Anyway, it was 6-1 Braves, and we would be glad to have the extra insurance…
… because Tyler Nutzack finally appeared mortal. Entering with two outs in the 7th, he gave up a single to the first man he faced before getting a strikeout to end the inning. There was no doubt he’d stay in the game to face the lefty Yordan Alvarez. But Yordan hit a triple that damn near left the ballpark and scored on a Correa groundout, and after another strikeout, Yuli Gurriel nearly left the park but was thrown out foolishly trying to stretch a loud single into a double. (The fences in Minute Maid Park are weird as heck.) So that made it 6-2.
The outfield assist, of course, was by Eddie Rosario, who also went 2-5 to lower his postseason batting average all the way from .474 to .465. We argued a bit about whether he or Soler should have led off. Anyway, Snit knew best.
Will Smith came on and pitched a pretty uneventful ninth inning. Actually, it had been a pretty uneventful game since both starting pitchers had to come out in the third. The Astros offense is like a coiled snake, and I don’t expect it to stay bottled up the whole series. So it sure feels good to bank a win in their home park.
Get some sleep, everybody, I guarantee it’s gonna be another late one!