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How the Astros Won Game 2 of the World Series

With Houston’s victory tonight, we’re assured of a World Series that will run at least five games. Games 3, 4 and 5 will all be played in Atlanta. Game 3 will be on Friday, Game 4 on Saturday and Game 5 on Sunday; the television broadcasts will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern on Fox.

Kendall Graveman came on in relief of Ryan Pressly for the ninth. He was able to finish off the win.

He retired Adam Duvall quickly on a liner to left. Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to first, and Dansby Swanson was the final out, striking out swinging on a sinker.

This series is headed to Atlanta, tied at one game apiece.

Credit…Elsa/Getty Images

Kyle Wright came in as Atlanta’s fifth pitcher of the night, and he was dominant, striking out the side.

He got Jose Siri on three pitches, having him wave helplessly at a curveball in the dirt. Martín Maldonado went down looking, as a 94-mile-per-hour sinker sailed right past him for strike three.

With two outs, Jose Altuve came up again, and lasted only five pitches, watching a sinker for strike three.

Credit…Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Atlanta has three more outs to get back into this game.

Houston brought in closer Ryan Pressly to start the eighth, and he promptly walked Ozzie Albies on seven pitches. He then struck out Austin Riley on three pitches, catching him looking at a 90-mile-per-hour slider.

Jorge Soler put a charge into a ball, sending it into deep left, but it landed in Michael Brantley’s glove, and Albies, who had been racing around the bases on contact, was able to get back to first.

With two outs, Joc Pederson struck out.

One of the fun, longtime traditions at Minute Maid Park is the playing of “Deep in the Heart of Texas” immediately following “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch. The catchy song with the clap-clap-clap-clap in the chorus never fails to elicit smiles.

 

The song itself was written in 1941 with lyrics by June Hershey and music by Don Swander. Several versions charted during the 1940s and many more have been recorded since by many people, including Perry Como, Gene Autry, Ray Charles, Duane Eddy, Hank Thompson and George Strait. The Astros feature the version recorded by Moe Bandy from his 1982 album Salutes the American Cowboy. Bandy was born in Meridian, Miss., in 1944 and opened a theater in Branson, Mo., in 1991.

Jose Altuve after his homer.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Drew Smyly came in to pitch for Atlanta and gave up a solo homer to Jose Altuve on the first pitch he threw. Michael Brantley then doubled on a liner to right.

Smyly finally got an out when Alex Bregman grounded out to third, but he grazed Yordan Alvarez’s elbow for a hit-by-pitch. Carlos Correa’s fly out to center allowed Brantley to advance to third, and then Alvarez advanced to second on a wild pitch during Kyle Tucker’s at-bat, which ended with a walk.

As a result, Yuli Gurriel came up with the bases loaded and two outs. Smyly was able to neutralize the 2021 A.L. batting champion, striking him out on three pitches to end the inning.

Altuve’s homer was his 22nd in a postseason game, and it tied him with Bernie Williams for second place on the career list.

Jose Altuve’s solo homer makes it 7-2.

The first pitch of the Drew Smyly’s night went poorly as Altuve hit it over the wall in left.

Cristian Javier leaving the game.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Atlanta is running out of chances.

Cristian Javier struck out Travis d’Arnaud and walked Dansby Swanson to start the inning, and that was all Dusty Baker needed to see. He replaced the reliever with Phil Maton.

Eddie Rosario flied out to center, making him 0 for 4 tonight. And Freddie Freeman grounded out to second to end the inning.

Max Fried leaving the game.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Atlanta is into its bullpen now as well. And Houston has added to its lead.

Yordan Alvarez led off the inning with a walk, breaking Max Fried’s string of 10 consecutive outs, and Carlos Correa followed with a single to left. That was it for Fried, who was replaced by Dylan Lee.

Lee got Kyle Tucker to ground into a force-out, erasing Correa at second. With runners on the corners and one out, Yuli Gurriel also hit a grounder that appeared likely to result in one or two outs. But Ozzie Albies dropped the ball at second, and both runners were safe and a run scored. Atlanta challenged the call, saying Albies was transferring the ball and should have been credited with an out at second, but the review determined he never had control.

A double steal advanced the runners to second and third. Jose Siri struck out swinging, and that brought up Martín Maldonado, who popped out to shortstop to end the inning.

Fried left his team in quite a hole, with a brutal second inning, but he also showed how dominant he can be, with a strong performance in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

If you blinked and missed Dylan Lee you’re not alone. The left-hander summoned to relieve Max Fried with two on in the sixth pitched a grand total of two innings in the majors in 2021. Atlanta signed him to a minor league contract on April 15 after Miami released him. A 10th-round pick in the 2016 draft by the Marlins, Atlanta called him up to the majors on Sept. 22, but shipped him back to Class-AAA Gwinnett three days later. Lee finally made his big league debut on Oct. 1 against the Mets.

Credit…Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Matchups are matchups, but a pitching change when Martín Maldonado is up is a little surprising. The defense-first catcher hit .172 this season, was 1 for 15 in the division series and was 1 for 14 in the N.L.C.S. Though, in his defense, he had a R.B.I. single earlier in this game.

Houston leads 6-2 on an R.B.I. groundout.

A dropped ball at second forced a challenge but the play was upheld after a review.

Cristian JavierCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Houston is into its bullpen, with Jose Urquidy having performed admirably.

Cristian Javier was the first arm out the ’pen, and though he immediately struck out Austin Riley, Jorge Soler followed with a double to left. That proved to be a blip, as Joc Pederson flied out to center and Adam Duvall popped out to third, holding Houston’s lead at 5-2.

Urquidy, who was pitching for only the second time this postseason, allowed two runs in five innings. He struck out seven and didn’t issue a walk. He threw only 74 pitches.

Max Fried settled in beginning in the third inning of Game 2 and, after surrendering five runs in the first two innings, looks a lot more like he usually looks in Game 2s: Until Wednesday, he had never allowed a run while pitching a Game 2. Fried started Game 2 of a division series against Milwaukee, worked in relief in Game 2 of a 2019 division series against the Cardinals and also pitched in relief in Game 2 of a 2018 division series against the Dodgers. In his start against Milwaukee earlier this month, Fried handcuffed the Brewers over six scoreless innings. Over his three Game 2 appearances before Wednesday’s, he had worked seven and a third scoreless innings and struck out 11 batters.

Credit…Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Max Fried continues to deal. He got Jose Altuve to ground out to second, then struck out Michael Brantley on five pitches and finished the inning with a strikeout of Alex Bregman.

After a rocky start to the game, Fried has retired 10 straight batters.

For anyone wondering, no, Dusty Baker would not be the oldest manager to win a World Series should Houston end up topping Atlanta. Jack McKeon, who guided the Florida Marlins to a championship in 2003, was just a month short of turning 73 at the time. Baker, meanwhile, only turned 72 in June.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

In four and two-thirds innings in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, Atlanta’s Max Fried threw 90 pitches and allowed the Dodgers five runs on eight hits. After four innings tonight in Houston, he’s at 67 pitches and has given up five runs, four of them earned, on six hits.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Atlanta got a run closer, but couldn’t do more damage.

Leading off, Travis d’Arnaud ended Jose Urquidy’s string of seven straight outs with a single to center. Dansby Swanson struck out, and Eddie Rosario grounded out to short, but d’Arnaud advanced to second on a wild pitch and then to third on the grounder. Freddie Freeman came through with an opposite-field single that sent d’Arnaud home.

Urquidy got out of the jam quickly when Ozzie Albies grounded out to first. But a three-run lead is considerably less imposing than a four-run lead.

Freddie Freeman’s R.B.I. single makes it 5-2.

The 2020 M.V.P. went the opposite way to narrow the gap slightly.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Max Fried jammed Yuli Gurriel with a 93-mile-per-hour fastball, and the red-hot Gurriel couldn’t quite handle it, flying out to left. Fried struck out Jose Siri with a curveball in the dirt that had the outfielder flailing. Fried then struck out Martín Maldonado on four pitches.

Fried is suddenly just as hot as Jose Urquidy. He has retired seven straight.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Jorge Soler struck out swinging on five pitches, and then Joc Pederson did exactly the same thing (though Pederson’s third strike was a foul tip that Martín Maldonado was able to hang onto). With two outs, Jose Urquidy finished off a second straight perfect inning by getting Adam Duvall to fly out to right.

Urquidy has recorded seven straight outs, and he has six strikeouts altogether.

Atlanta pinch-runner Terrance Gore diving back to first base on a pickoff play during the division series. Gore did not expect to end up on the World Series roster.Credit…Tannen Maury/EPA, via Shutterstock

HOUSTON — If Game 2 — or any other game — is close in the late innings, Atlanta has a potential difference maker on its bench, in the speedster Terrance Gore. He was a surprising addition to the World Series roster after he spent the entire season in the minors before being added to Atlanta’s division series roster.

In fact, the addition was a surprise to Gore.

He was visiting his mother on Sunday in Macon, Ga., he said, when his cellphone started buzzing. When he looked, he saw a Game Plan app appear on his screen. That is the app Atlanta uses to send its players scouting reports, video, statistics and other information on its opponents.

“It only triggers if I’m active, involved in the game,” Gore, 30, said in Atlanta’s dugout before Game 2. “That’s how I knew.”

When he arrived at Truist Park ahead of Atlanta’s trip to Houston, club officials informed him that they were adding him to the roster. Gore told them he already knew because “y’all sent me the Game Plan already.”

This is Gore’s second World Series. He also participated with Kansas City in 2014. He has appeared in 10 postseason games in his career, stolen five bases and scored three runs as a pinch-hitter. He has fanned in his only two postseason at-bats.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” said Gore, who was not on the N.L.C.S. roster against the Dodgers. “I mean, it’s the World Series. How can you not?”

The experienced Astros are as comfortable hitting with two out as just about any other situation: They scored 27 of their 36 total runs in the American League Championship Series with two outs. In Game 2, they’ve scored two of their five runs through three innings with two outs and in Game 1 Tuesday night they scored one of their two runs with two outs. The 27 two-out runs in the A.L.C.S. were the most in a postseason series in M.L.B. history.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Max Fried stayed in the game after a difficult second inning, and his team was better for it. He struck out Yordan Alvarez on five pitches, retired Carlos Correa on a grounder to shortstop and got Kyle Tucker to pop out to second base to end the inning.

Saving the bullpen isn’t a huge concern, with Thursday being a travel day in the series, but not having to burn through a parade of relievers would seemingly help Atlanta keep things reasonable.

Jose Urquidy responded well to being handed a large lead.

He needed only two pitches to retire Freddie Freeman on a grounder to second. He also used only two to retire Ozzie Albies on a grounder to shortstop. He retired Austin Riley on a fly ball to center, but that at-bat took Urquidy three pitches.

Jose Siri after scoring Houston’s fourth run.Credit…Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Astros offense is asserting itself, with a little help from Atlanta’s fielders. Houston now leads, 5-1.

After Carlos Correa started the inning by striking out on four pitches, Kyle Tucker laced a single up the middle. Yuli Gurriel singled as well, sending Tucker to third, and that put him in position to score fairly easily on a soft grounder by Jose Siri that eluded Max Fried.

One batter later, Martín Maldonado, arguably the worst hitter in baseball, singled between the third baseman and the shortstop, driving in one run, and another scored thanks to an odd error. Eddie Rosario, who had fielded the single, saw Siri going to third and tried to throw him out — only no one was covering the base. As Atlanta tried to corral the loose ball, Siri came around to score.

Maldonado had advanced to second on the error, and he reached third on a wild pitch. The slow-footed catcher chose not to try tagging up on Jose Altuve’s fly-out to center, and that proved wise as Maldonado was able to score much more easily on Michael Brantley’s single to right.

Fried finally got out of the inning when Alex Bregman grounded out to third, but this game has suddenly tilted heavily in Houston’s favor.

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