This is what the Astros are supposed to look like.
This is how they normally play the modern grand ol’ game.
This is how they publicly answer doubt, worry and whatever the heck Game 1 was.
“(Wednesday) is our day,” said veteran manager Dusty Baker, after Atlanta took a 1-0 Fall Classic lead.
My gosh was Baker right.
And you could have charged our entire big city for a few thrilling hours by plugging into the buzzing outlet that was an open-roofed Minute Maid Park.
There were times when the Astros’ baseball home felt like an impromptu outdoor dance party.
There were moments when rookie Jose Siri was coolly flying around the bases and wildly celebrating on national television, and the Astros winning a few games in Atlanta felt imminently possible.
There were waving flags, swirling orange towels and a cool but not cold wind.
If you could bottle up and sell the feeling that ran through the ballpark during the bottom of the second inning — run after run, echoing cheer after echoing cheer — you would have a new booming local business.
The recent American League Division and Championship Series were also a blast, and the Astros are in their third World Series in the last five years, so it’s not like this hasn’t happened before from a big-picture October perspective.
We’re used to big games, crazy moments, huge feelings and annual magic.
But when the once-sealed roof slowly rolled back as Jose Urquidy’s first pitch waited?
When all the cellphone cameras were pointed upward and a soft blue sky gradually appeared?
When the same sky turned orange, then purple, then a perfect nighttime black four days away from November?
The 2021 World Series truly arrived in Houston.
Sixteen long years after the last time that the Astros peeled back their stadium’s ceiling during the Fall Classic, it was instantly obvious that Game 2 was just going to be different.
Start different, with the Astros unleashing five runs before the third inning began.
“They knew that we needed that game,” Baker said. “The roof being open, I mean, rarely is it open. Usually it’s not that cool. Usually it’s humid and muggy and you welcome the roof closed. So it was different.”
The Rally Nuns standing atop center field, closer than almost every other fan inside the ballpark to the nighttime sky, also obviously aided the local cause.
Game 1 was all Atlanta. A scorched solo home run to lead off this World Series. Braves 6-2 as Framber Valdez was knocked off the mound.
Baker had watched his Astros rally, fight back and rally again since a chaotic 2020 season started. He was adamant his team would respond one more time.
“The one thing that I don’t understand is, just like in Boston, they had us written off already at (down) 2-1,” Baker said. “People are texting me, ‘Oh, it’s OK, man. It’s all right.’ It’s like, dude, this is a seven-game series. It ain’t no one-game series. If it was a one-game series, you can save all of us sleepless nights and just go home now. That’s why it’s a seven-game series.”
The Astros perfectly followed those words in Game 2.
Altuve, who entered Wednesday night struggling at the plate, led off with a sharp double down the left-field line. When Alex Bregman, who had also been struggling in the box, lifted a sacrifice fly that scored Altuve, the home team had its first lead of this Fall Classic, and Minute Maid Park was fully re-energized.
“Just grinding,” said Bregman, after repeatedly studying video of himself during batting practice.
Travis d’Arnaud responded with a line-drive solo shot in the second. A Braves team that had spent the postseason overcoming questions responded to another.
“We were dealt a significant blow and we’re just going to have to adjust and fight through it the best we can,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said pregame, discussing the loss of starting pitcher Charlie Morton to a broken leg.
But this was Game 2.
The night that the roof was finally opened.
The evening when Minute Maid Park glowed, Houston’s skyline burned even brighter and our electric downtown ballpark embraced the beauty of the outdoors.
This is how the World Series is supposed to feel.
This is what the Astros are supposed to look like on baseball’s biggest stage.