Sometimes the baseball bounces your way. And sometimes it does not.
On Wednesday night in Minute Maid Park, the ball did not bounce the Braves’ way, and the Astros evened the World Series with a 7-2 victory.
Max Fried, for the third postseason start in a row, was not particularly sharp early on. He gave up a quick run in the first inning as Jose Altuve doubled and came around to score on two well-struck line outs.
Travis d’Arnaud promptly tied things in the top of the second against Jose Urquidy with a two-out, 3-2 shot into the Crawfish Boxes. It was d’Arnaud’s first homer of the postseason.
And then the bottom of the second happened. It felt like the series shifted.
Carlos Correa struck out to lead things off, but Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel singled to put runners on the corners. Gurriel’s single was weakly hit but found a hole against the shift. Jose Siri, who is quite fast, then beat out an infield single to give Houston a 2-1 lead. Martin Maldonado followed with a weak-hit single past Dansby Swanson in the hole to extend the deficit to 3-1, and a horrible throw from Eddie Rosario to no one at third base allowed Siri to come around and score. Michael Brantley then smoked a single to make it 5-1.
It was a brutal inning for the Braves, who fell victim to some awful luck against the shift, bad defense, and Fried’s inability to strike anyone out in a big spot.
Exit velos of the fives singles Fried allowed in the four-run second:— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) October 28, 2021
Tucker 94.4 mph
Gurriel 84.2 mph
Siri 51.5 mph
Maldonado 89.1 mph
Brantley 101.3 mph.
Brantley's single was the only one that qualifies as a hard-hit ball
After the second inning rally, Fried settled in nicely. He worked perfect 1-2-3 innings in the third, fourth and fifth to help out a fatigued bullpen.
Atlanta got a mini-rally going in the fifth against Urquidy. d’Arnaud singled, advanced on a wild pitch and then came around to score on a two-out single from Freddie Freeman to cut the lead to 5-2. Urquidy’s night would end there and gave way to Houston’s bullpen.
Jorge Soler smoked a double down the line in the sixth, but he was stranded on second.
Fried finally ran out of gas in the sixth after allowing a hit to Carlos Correa and walk to Yordan Alvarez. Dylan Lee came in and did his job inducing back-to-back grounders, but Ozzie Albies made a wide throw to Swanson to prevent any chance of completing a double play on the first one, and then did not fully catch a ball thrown to him by Swanson while trying to turn a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Lee would battle back with a strikeout of Jose Siri and then gave way to Jesse Chavez with two outs. Chavez promptly got Maldonado to pop out to end the threat and keep the deficit at 6-2.
Swanson tried to get things moving in the seventh with an eight-pitch walk, but two quick outs from Rosario and Freeman quickly ended the threat.
In came Drew Smyly in the bottom of the seventh, and Jose Altuve hit the first pitch over the wall to make it 7-2. Smyly would load the bases but get out of the jam.
In the eighth, Kyle Wright worked a very impressive frame, striking out the side on 12 pitches. Something to build from, perhaps.
The top of the ninth brought in Kendall Graveman and the Braves could not get anything going.
Following a day off Thursday, the Braves and Astros will meet in Atlanta for Game 3 on Friday night. First pitch is set for 8:09 p.m. ET. It will be a battle of young righties as Ian Anderson takes the mound against Luis Garcia. Garcia was strong during the regular season for Houston, posting a 3.30 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 9.68 K/9, 2.90 BB/9 and 11-8 record across 28 starts.