Frustration as Atlanta’s chance for an at-home World Series victory slips away

An evening that started with anticipation and optimism among Braves fans turned to frustration and disappointment early Monday as the potential for an Atlanta World Series victory at home slipped away.

Early celebrations that followed a Braves grand slam in the first inning of Game 5 were tempered as the night dragged on and the Houston Astros built on momentum to overtake Atlanta, 9-5.

“It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t pull it out tonight,” said Shafik Jamal, 29, of Decatur, who watched the game from Atlantic Station.

Atlanta hasn’t won a World Series title since 1995 — when Michael Jordan was still in the NBA, “Gangsta’s Paradise” was dominating the charts and the O.J. Simpson trial had just captivated the country. Many Braves fans were hoping they’d have reason to celebrate a new golden era for the team tonight.

Instead, they experienced late-coming disappointment — an all-too-familiar feeling for longtime Atlanta sports fans. Still fresh in the minds of many was the Falcons’ 2017 Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, in which Atlanta blew a 28-3 lead only to lose at the hand of Tom Brady in overtime. Or the Braves’ early 3-1 series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series last year that also ended in heartbreak.

Despite that, many expressed optimism that the Braves could turn things around during Game 6 or 7 at Houston’s Minute Maid Park on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I feel like Braves fans got too excited — and we know better than to get excited during the postseason,” said Tyler Green of Sandy Springs, who was wearing his father’s 1995 Braves World Series baseball cap while watching the game at a Hudson Grille. “It’s not over ‘til it’s over.”

“I still think we have a great team,” Green added. “And I’m honestly extremely hopeful. At 3-2, we got this.”

This was, after all, the same squad that entered the playoffs with the fewest wins of any team and went on to defeat the defending world champs, the Dodgers, in the NLCS.

“I’m naturally disappointed but it’s a seven-game series,” said Jacob Bowman, a lifelong Braves fan from Birmingham.

Despite the night’s downward turn, many Braves fans watched until the very end of the game, which stretched past midnight.

“Anyone who leaves ain’t loyal,” one man yelled at a watch party on the Atlantic Station lawn as a group picked up and left after 11 p.m.

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Earlier in the evening, Braves fans were overjoyed as Adam Duvall hit a grand slam, giving Atlanta a 4-0 advantage over the Astros.

Hudson Grille in Sandy Springs erupted after the play, with fans slapping high fives and whistling in excitement.

At the same moment, a large crowd watching the game from a big screen at The Battery outside of Truist Park roared. Drake Vahey, an insurance contractor from Roswell, described the moment as “electric.”

“It was dead silent when the ball was in the air, and then it just erupted,” Vahey said.

Vahey was one of many fans who watched the Braves play in the 1990′s as a kid.

“I’ve been going to games since I was born, ever since I can remember,” Vahey said as he briefly glanced away from the game.

Others weren’t alive during the Braves’ last World Series championship appearance in 1999, when Atlanta lost to the New York Yankees.

Tony Kesserwani, a Cumming native, was one of them. So he made big moves to make sure he was inside Truist Park when the possibility emerged.

“I flew from Oklahoma just to be here tonight,” the 20-year-old student said. “It’s a life dream of mine.”

Credit: Taylor Reimann / Fresh Take Georgia

Credit: Taylor Reimann / Fresh Take Georgia

Fans paid top dollar to cheer on the Braves.

Standing room tickets neared $1,300 a pop Sunday morning on StubHub.com. Seats in the upper deck went for closer to $1,400, and some lots near Truist were charging $100 for parking. Officials eventually restricted portions of The Battery to only World Series ticket holders to limit the crowds.

Many opted to watch the game from home or at nearby bars. But some who made that choice later regretted not shelling out the money.

Leo Tracchia, a web design software engineer from Dallas, Ga., and long-time Braves fan, pondered buying a ticket. But his friend and fellow software engineer Daniel Alexander talked him out of it.

“You could spend that money for a vacation to the Dominican Republic,” Alexander said to him.

So Tracchia didn’t go through with it. As solace, the duo decided to show up at the already packed Battery at 9 p.m. A search for alcohol proved fruitless. When they saw a relatively short line at Cru, they were told the bar was out of everything. So they went over to a stage set up near Wahlburgers to watch the game with thousands of others. During the fourth inning, Tracchia looked at the fans sitting in Truist and sighed.

“I’m feeling jealous,” he said. And regret that he didn’t buy himself a ticket.

Staff writers Maya T. Prabhu, Rodney Ho and Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.