Braves can clinch first World Series since 1995 with victory over Astros
Occupants of Atlanta since 1966, the Braves can give the city its second World Series title with a victory in Game 5 on Sunday.
The Braves used back-to-back home runs from Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler in the seventh inning Saturday to rally for a 3-2 victory and take a 3-1 series lead over the Houston Astros.
The last time the Braves won a World Series, Brad Pitt’s “Seven” was the top movie. Mariah Carey owned that month with the single “Fantasy.” That was 1995, with the Braves hoping this year that their fantasy won’t have to go a full seven.
The Braves had a line on a title last season, but could not finish off the National League Championship Series despite a 3-1 lead. They already avenged that disappointment, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in this year’s NLCS.
Now they have the Astros on the ropes with that same 3-1 advantage that slipped away in the playoffs last year.
“It’s such a cool moment for this city, but we got one more,” said Swanson, an Atlanta-area native, who was traded to the Braves from the Arizona Diamondbacks in December of 2015, just over six months after he was drafted No. 1 overall. “They have a great ballclub over there and we can’t take anything for granted. We have to come out (Sunday) and be ready to play our game.”
The Braves are undecided who their Game 5 starter will be after Charlie Morton suffered a fractured right fibula when he was hit with a comebacker in Game 1. Left-hander Max Fried said he was willing to take the mound on short rest, but manager Brian Snitker did not announce his pitcher after the Game 5 victory.
The Astros are sending Game 1 starter Framber Valdez to the mound Sunday. Valdez was roughed up for five runs over two innings in Game 1, giving up eight hits along with home runs from Soler and Adam Duvall.
Valdez already has eight postseason appearances (seven starts) over the past two seasons and is 4-2 with a 3.73 ERA.
But Valdez’s Game 1 start is not the Astros’ biggest concern. Houston has scored just two combined runs over the past two games and left 11 runners on base in Game 4, including seven over the first four innings.
“They have good pitchers and they have been executing every pitch,” said Houston’s Jose Altuve, who has two home runs in the World Series but is just 4-for-18 in four games. “They are not giving us a lot of pitches to hit. We’re trying hard as hitters, we have a good lineup, but sometimes you have to give credit to the other team.”
No. 3 hitter Alex Bregman is just 1-for-14 in the series with five strikeouts and no extra-base hits. Cleanup hitter Yordan Alvarez is 1-for-11. Carlos Correa is 2-for-14.
Astros manager Dusty Baker was asked after Game 4 if he would consider a lineup change that has Bregman lower in the order.
“Well, yeah, I thought about it,” Baker said. “I’ll let you know tomorrow when I make the lineup out.”
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