Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The Atlanta Braves relied on clutch relief pitching and clutch home runs to earn the win on Saturday night. The only difference between Atlanta’s Game 4 victory over the Houston Astros and the others that came before it was how it thrust the Braves squarely on the brink of their first World Series title in 26 years (that was 1995 for the untrained eye).
Atlanta’s 3-1 series lead came on the backs of Dansby Swanson, who hit a 1-2 fastball from Cristian Javier out to right field in the bottom of the seventh inning, and pinch-hitter Jorge Soler, who followed with a line shot to left field off a 2-1 slider that just cleared the fence. The back-to-black blasts served to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory.
It also wouldn’t have happened had their relief pitching not stepped up in such a big way. The Braves’ bullpen made its presence known early, as Kyle Wright — a pitcher who was added to the roster for only the World Series after spending most of the season in Triple-A (and who owns a 6.65 career ERA in the majors) — relieved starter Dylan Lee with the bases loaded in the first inning. Wright escaped a less than favorable situation with just one run scored, and then allowed only one more run over his 4⅔ innings. Houston had runners all over the place, but it left 11 runners on base against him.
In Game 5, the Astros have Framber Valdez going against the Braves’ Tucker Davidson, who enters the contest with five career starts to his name.
Atlanta comes into Sunday’s showdown a perfect 7-0 at home this postseason, tied for longest home winning streak in a single postseason. Will the Braves become the only team to go 8-0 at home in a single postseason while putting an end to their 16 consecutive postseason appearances without winning the World Series? Or will the Astros get their offense going just in time to force a Game 6 at home in Houston?
Here are the biggest moments from a high stakes Game 5:
Did we mention the potential series-clinching game just happens to fall on Halloween?
Braves players understood the assignment. See: Joc Pederson’s trick or treat-inspired Sour Patch Kids and Coca-Cola ensemble (with a pearl necklace, of course), A.J. Minter’s ode to country singer Alan Jackson and Jorge Soler’s cheetah onesie.
At first glance, the Astros were too focused on staying in the fight to commit to a costume, as Carlos Correa and Yordan Alvarez arrived in normal street clothing.
On second glance, did Correa rock the Freddy Krueger sweater?
Spooky season indeed.
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