Bullpen closes it out
Once the Braves had the lead, relievers Luke Jackson and Will Smith retired the Astros’ final six batters in order, completing a fantastic night for the Braves bullpen. Jackson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which ended with a running, lunging catch of a Jose Altuve drive on the left-field warning track by Eddie Rosario. Then Smith pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, retiring Astros cleanup hitter Yordan Alvarez on a slow roller to first base to end the game.
Riley’s RBI started the comeback
Before the back-to-back homers in the seventh, Austin Riley delivered a two-out RBI single against Astros reliever Phil Maton in the sixth to trim Houston’s lead from 2-0 to 2-1. Riley’s hit scored Rosario, who had doubled off Brooks Raley. The Braves had a chance to get more runs in the inning, but Maton retired Travis d’Arnaud for the third out on a called third strike with the bases loaded.
Improbable starter, to say the least
Has there ever been a more improbable starting pitcher in a World Series game than Dylan Lee, who started for the Braves? He’s a 27-year-old rookie who was released by the Miami Marlins in March, spent the 2021 season at Triple-A Gwinnett until the Braves summoned him for his major-league debut in the final weekend of the regular season and had never made an MLB start before Saturday. Used as the “opener” in a “bullpen game,” he became the first pitcher in major-league history to make his first career start in the World Series. His last start before Saturday was in 2017 for the Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers.
How the improbable starter fared
Lee faced only four batters and got only one out. The leadoff batter, Altuve, reached on an infield single. Then Michael Brantley walked, Alex Bregman struck out and Alvarez walked to load the bases. At that point, the opener’s night was done. The Braves’ next pitcher, Kyle Wright, minimized the damage by retiring Carlos Correa on a run-scoring groundout to third base and striking out Kyle Tucker. The Astros led 1-0, but the Braves, thanks to Wright, avoided falling into a deeper hole.
Wright keeps the game manageable
After mitigating the first-inning mess with only one inherited runner scoring, Wright held the Astros to one additional run over the next four innings -- that on Altuve’s 23rd career postseason homer in the fourth. Wright performed commendably on the World Series stage after spending almost the entire season at Triple-A Gwinnett. He kept the Astros off the scoreboard in the second inning (despite back-to-back one-out singles), the third inning (despite the Astros loading the bases with two outs) and the fifth inning (despite the Astros having a runner at third base with two outs). In 4-2/3 innings, Wright threw 73 pitches and was charged with one run on five hits.
Greinke does his job
Astros starter Zack Greinke, who had pitched only 4-2/3 innings since Sept. 19, delivered four scoreless innings. The 18-year veteran allowed four hits (all singles), walked none and induced double-play grounders to end each of his final two innings.
-- The Braves are 7-0 this postseason at Truist Park, where they have won 12 of their past 13 games overall.
-- The Braves’ trade-deadline acquisitions paid off yet again: Soler hitting the go-ahead homer and Rosario delivering two hits, scoring a run and making the catch to end the eighth.
-- Soler became the second player in Braves history to hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later of a World Series game. The first was Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews in 1957.
-- Soler was available as a pinch-hitter because Joc Pederson started in right field.
-- Third baseman Riley made a terrific diving stop of an Altuve liner down the line in the second inning, helping Wright get through a scoreless inning despite allowing two singles (one by Greinke).
-- Chris Martin and Tyler Matzek followed Wright to the mound, pitching scoreless sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
-- The Astros left 11 runners on base, including seven in the first three innings. They were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
-- Altuve scored both of the Astros’ runs.