HOUSTON – When the Braves pulled into their hotel in Houston on Sunday night, the memories began flooding back for Travis d’Arnaud.

“I didn’t go right to my room, I went right to the third floor, where we celebrated,” d’Arnaud said.

On the night of Nov. 2, 2021, into the morning of Nov. 3, the Braves partied – hard. They celebrated the achievement of the ultimate goal: Winning a World Series.

And this week, the Braves are back at Minute Maid Park, where they defeated the Astros, 7-0, in Game 6 of the 2021 World Series. This is their first time here since hoisting the trophy.

They’re all feeling the memories come back.

“How can you not?” A.J. Minter said. “This was the best day of my life. This is the first time we’ve been back here since the World Series, and walking in the locker room and, man, back in the same locker room where, like I said, it was the best day of my life, and something I’ll always remember forever.”

As he stood in the clubhouse on Monday, d’Arnaud said: “I remember more of this clubhouse being not like the seats and everything, but more of how it was when the game ended.”

Instead of a neat clubhouse with jerseys and pants carefully placed in each locker, the lockers and furniture were wrapped in plastic after Game 6. This is customary when clubhouse attendants prepare for huge victories – like clinching the division, advancing in the postseason or winning the World Series.

And on that November night, the Braves’ lives changed forever. They will forever be known as champions, the fruits of their labor rewarded by the ultimate prize.

“I remember sitting in that chair in the ninth inning and there’s two outs and then thinking to myself, ‘My God, this is really gonna happen,’” Braves manager Brian Snitker recalled. “Yeah, that’s unbelievable memories. There’s nothing like it, I’ll tell you that. In the industry, that’s what you strive for all the time, and to be able to experience it, I was very blessed to be able to do that.”

And with two outs in that ninth inning, even as the Braves led by seven runs, the bullpen wasn’t celebrating. They hadn’t won yet.

“The game was over, but none of us in the bullpen was giving in,” Minter said. “We didn’t even wanna look at each other, we didn’t wanna jinx anything. We were just fully locked in. As soon as the last out was made, we all hugged in the bullpen and then obviously ran out here and joined the team. We weren’t letting up until the final out.”

When d’Arnaud saw Yuli Gurriel hit a grounder to shortstop Dansby Swanson, he realized Ozzie Albies wasn’t covering second base. Swanson noticed that, too, and instead fired to first base. “Oh s—, I’m supposed to back up (the play),” d’Arnaud remembers thinking when he saw Swanson begin throwing it to Freddie Freeman.

And then when he saw Swanson release a perfect throw, d’Arnaud bolted at closer Will Smith. The celebration began on the mound.

“You just black out,” d’Arnaud said. “I remember just (dog) piling, hugs. Watching the tape, I think, brings everything back even more so.”

The party continued on the third floor of the hotel – the same hotel the Braves are staying at this week for their three-game series against the Astros.

“Obviously, we would’ve loved to win at home,” Minter said. “But I think if we won at home, we wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy it as a team – because the families are at home, the fans, everyone would want to experience it with the whole city, and I feel like everyone would’ve gone their (separate) ways. But we were here together as a team, stuck in the hotel together, and we stayed up all night and we just threw our own party. That’s what made it special. No one got in the way and could ruin the party for us. We were all there as a family, (as an) organization, (and) all the people that mattered were in one room together just enjoying it and soaking it all in.”

The 2021 Braves symbolized perhaps the best part about baseball: When a team gets hot and comes together, anything is possible. Magic. Mojo. Whatever you want to call it, they had it.

To reach the postseason, they battled adversity. In the summer, they lost Ronald Acuña Jr. to a torn ACL. They fought hard to even get above .500, let alone win the division and advance through the playoffs.

“I remember at the All-Star break, we weren’t treading water – I said, we were right below the surface, really,” Snitker said. “And the thing you take, too, is just how hard it is to pull that off, how hard it is to win a world championship. It’s never easy. These seasons are hard in themselves. And to go through a playoff run and have things go your way is really hard.”

And this week, the Braves can relive those championship memories in this ballpark.

“The last time I was here, it was a pretty good time,” Snitker said.

Cool cleats for Jackie Robinson Day

Major League Baseball on Monday celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. When Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, he became the first Black baseball player to appear in the major leagues.

Michael Harris II, who is Black, honored Robinson with custom-made cleats. They were made by Adrian Gonzalez – who owns Gonzo Custom Footwear and is based out of Houston.

The cleats are gray and have a picture of Robinson in his Dodgers uniform and cap. The heels have a red “42″ with Robinson’s signature.

A day off for Arcia

In the series finale versus the Mets, Luis Guillorme made his Braves debut … as a pitcher.

On Monday, he was in the lineup batting ninth as the shortstop. Snitker gave Orlando Arcia a day off.

When Arcia got off to a hot start, Snitker didn’t want to sit him. He’s been trying to find a good day to get Guillorme into the lineup, and Monday worked well.

Murphy keeps progressing

As he’s done recently, Sean Murphy (oblique strain) continued throwing on Monday. This is an encouraging sign.

“He’s starting to accelerate activity,” Snitker said. “He was on the treadmill. I know he was just kind of pushing the ball the other day. Now he’s kind of, I think, moving his feet a little bit. So yeah, I think any kind of activity as he doesn’t feel things is really a good sign as we kind of work to get him back.”

But hitting?

That’ll take longer. Murphy will need to be free of pain before he can begin swinging.

“Exactly, because you’ll end up back at square one, so you gotta be really careful with it,” Snitker said.