The Atlanta Braves moved a step closer with a 3-2 win Saturday night, they can finish the job Sunday when the World Series continues with Game 5 against the Houston Astros. The Braves took a 3-1 lead in the series Saturday night thanks to another great performance by the bullpen along with back-to-back seventh inning home runs by Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler.
Atlanta’s offense has done just enough in this series but enough hasn’t been said for the job the pitching staff has done against Houston’s high powered offense. The Astros led the majors in runs scored, wRC+ and fWAR during the regular season. They trailed the Boston Red Sox 2-1 in the ALCS but then rallied to win three straight outscoring Boston 23-3 over the final three games.
Houston has scored a total of 11 runs in the first four games of the series and seven of those came in their Game 2 win. They had ample opportunities in Game 4 but were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.
The Braves know full well the potential of Houston’s offense and that their best bet is to close this series out in Atlanta rather than return to Texas for the final two games of the series.
Atlanta would have had Charlie Morton lined up to start on Sunday but he was lost for the series after a line drive to his lower leg resulted in a fractured fibula. Instead the Braves will go with another bullpen game. Following Saturday’s win, Brian Snitker wasn’t ready to announce who will start Game 5 but he will have several options.
Neither A.J. Minter or Jesse Chavez pitched in Game 4 and both have served as openers in the past. Tucker Davidson and Drew Smyly are also available to serve as multi-inning options. Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith all pitched in Games 3 and 4 but, with an off day Monday, would be called on again late if the game is close or the Braves have the lead.
The Astros will go with Game 1 starter Framber Valdez in Game 5. Valdez struggled in the opener allowing eight hits and five runs in just two innings in the opener. However, he was put in a similar situation in the ALCS and responded well. Valdez started Game 1 against the Red Sox and didn’t make it out of the third inning allowing six hits, three walks and three runs although only two were earned. He came back in Game 5 and was lights out allowing three hits and one run over eight solid innings in one of the best starts of the postseason.
Swanson and Soler came up big for the Braves in Game 4 but Eddie Rosario continues to be the star of the postseason. He added two more hits in Game 4 and made a highlight catch in left to end the eighth. His 23 postseason hits tie Marquis Grissom’s 1996 total for the second most in franchise history. Grissom holds the franchise record with 25 set in 1995. Those 23 hits are the third most by a left-handed hitter in postseason history trailing only Darin Erstad (25) and Tino Martinez (24)
Austin Riley also had two hits in Game 4 and drove home Rosario in the sixth to plate Atlanta’s first run. Riley is 5-for-17 in the series with two doubles and three runs batted in.
Houston’s Alex Bregman went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts in Game 4. He is now 1-for-14 in the series and Dusty Baker said following Saturday’s loss that he would consider dropping him in the order for Game 5.
Sunday’s game is scheduled to get underway at 8:15 p.m. ET and can be seen on FOX.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, October 31, 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network