The Astros are back in the driver's seat

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Houston evens World Series with a dominant win in Game 4

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

With an utterly disappointing start to the World Series for the Astros having lost the first two games at home with their best pitchers on the mound, they took Game 3 to get back into it. On Saturday, they went one step further with an 8-1 win in Game 4, and are now back in the driver's seat with both teams needing two wins of the final three games to take the series.

It started with a brilliant performance by Jose Urquidy, who exceeded expectations in a start that earned him a win, then Alex Bregman put the exclamation point on the night with a grand slam later in the game. Here is a recap of Game 4:

Final Score: Astros 8, Nationals 1.

Series: tied 2-2.

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy.

Losing Pitcher: Patrick Corbin.

Houston jumps ahead early again

Just like in Game 3, the Astros went right at the Nationals to get an early lead. It came by way of four-straight singles in the top of the first by Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, and Yuli Gurriel, with Bregman and Gurriel's coming in for RBIs. They would go on to load the bases, but an inning-ending double play would hold them to just a 2-0 lead.

That score held until the top of the fourth, where Houston doubled their score with one swing of the bat. Carlos Correa started the inning with his second walk of the night, setting up a two-run homer by Robinson Chirinos, his second in as many nights, pushing the Astros out to a 4-0 lead.

Urquidy exceeds expectations in a gem of a start

While the Astros were putting up four runs, Jose Urquidy would have been okay with just one through his start. In a game that was expected to be full of many relievers, the rookie pitcher carried his team on his back for a terrific outing.

Urquidy allowed two hits, a single in the first and double in the third. That's it for five innings in the World Series against the Nationals who just three days ago put up twelve runs. Not only was it just what his team needed, but it was also arguably the best start by a pitcher on either team this whole series. His final line in an incredible night: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.

Nats get one back in the sixth, but Bregman blows it open in the seventh

Josh James was first out of Houston's bullpen as they looked to their relievers to hold on to the four-run lead over the final four innings. James would not have his best stuff, getting a strikeout but allowing two walks, prompting A.J. Hinch to make another move to bring in Will Harris to shut down the inning.

Harris would have a comebacker deflect off his leg against his first batter, loading the bases before getting an RBI-groundout for the second out, making it 4-1. He would end the threat there, getting a crucial strikeout to end the inning and hold the three-run lead.

In the top of the seventh, the Astros went to work against Washington's bullpen. They loaded the bases on a pinch-hit walk by Kyle Tucker, walk by George Springer, then single by Michal Brantley. That brought the struggling Alex Bregman to the plate with one out, and instead of getting just one run on a sacrifice hit, instead blew the game open with a huge grand slam to make it 8-1 and get him back on track at the plate.

Houston ties the series

Hector Rondon was next out of Houston's bullpen to try and hold the newly created seven-run lead in the bottom of the seventh. He would record two outs while putting two on base, resulting in a change to bring in Brad Peacock, who would get the last out of the inning. Peacock remained in the game for the bottom of the eighth, working around a walk and error for a scoreless inning to move the game into the ninth with Houston still ahead seven runs.

Chris Devenski was the final pitcher of the night for the Astros, coming in for the bottom of the ninth to hold on to the seven-run lead and get the final three outs. He did so, getting a scoreless frame to finish the victory, which has Houston in a tie for the World Series with back-to-back wins after dropping the first two games.

Up Next: World Series Game 5 will get underway Sunday with another 7:07 PM Central start time. The pitching matchup is a rematch of Game 1 with the Nationals sending out Max Scherzer and the Astros starting Gerrit Cole. Scherzer was the winner of that game with five innings of work while allowing two runs and Cole received his first loss of the postseason by allowing five runs over seven frames. Houston will expect Cole to be back to the dominant self that had him out to a 3-0 start to the postseason before that tough outing.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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Jose Urquidy is a surprising choice to start Game 2. Photo by Getty Images.

After a long and tumultuous season, the Houston Astros made it to their 3rd World Series in five years and will take on the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night.

Houston had the better overall regular season record, so games 1 & 2 will be played at Minute Maid Park while games 3-5 will be held at Truist Park in Atlanta.

(If necessary, the final two contests will be played back at Minute Maid Park).

The Braves got this far by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS 3-1 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games (4-2).

Atlanta prevailed with timely hitting from guys like Joc Pederson, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario performing like an MVP this postseason.

The Braves received solid pitching outings from guys like Ian Anderson, Max Fried and former Astro Charlie Morton.

Atlanta used clutch hitting and solid pitching to make to their first World Series since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Astros made it back to the World Series by defeating the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS 3-1 and out-slugged the Red Sox four games to two.

According to Fox Bet, the Astros are favored at -154 to win the World Series. This is certainly an obtainable goal for Houston's team as they have the experience, hitting and pitching to compete with anyone.

Can Houston's bats stay hot?

The most intriguing matchup this series will be the Astros' bats facing off against this Braves pitching staff. On paper, Houston's lineup seems to be favored for their depth. Jose Altuve at the top of the batting order is always a threat to get on base, and behind him are a plethora of hitters who can drive in multiple runs.

The two best bats this postseason thus far for the Astros are ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522 batting average) and this year's American League batting title champion Yuli Gurriel (.455 batting average). The Cuban natives have lit up pitching and will look to continue their torrid hitting in the World Series.

Other Astros who could be impactful at the plate against the Braves include Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. All three of their batting average's in the .200's respectfully and could come up big at any time.

This lineup is so deep, Atlanta's pitchers won't receive many breaks, if at all this series.

Will the pitching step up again?

Losing Lance McCullers Jr. for the World Series certainly isn't ideal, but not impossible to overcome as proven in the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Framber Valdez pitched the best game of his career when he threw 8 innings and surrendered only one run in Game 3, while Luis Garcia had his best start of the postseason and received the Game 6 win. Both of these pitchers have stepped up in McCullers' absence and will have a huge impact on the series. Valdez is set to start Game 1 on Tuesday night.

If Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke can also pitch deeper into games, there will be less stress on the bullpen and give the Astros a better chance to stay in games. And we won't have to wait long to see Urquidy, as he will start Game 2, according to Astros manager Dusty Baker.

In an ideal scenario, the Astros' starting pitchers should throw six innings of work and let Kendall Graveman, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly closeout games as they have all season.

Of course this is the best-case scenario, which doesn't always happen, but other arms can be used to bridge the gaps that include Phil Maton, Yimi Garcia in short relief outings and Cristian Javier and Jake Odorizzi can pitch multiple innings if needed.

Even if a starter has a clunker of a start, this bullpen has done a great job of keeping things close and setting up the Astros for success.

Will this be Carlos Correa's "Last Dance" with Astros?

One can only imagine what is going on in Carlos Correa's mind right now. No one is implying that the free agent to be will not be focused this series, but it's hard to fathom this upcoming offseason isn't a distraction right now.

The 27-year-old shortstop is set to receive multiple offers from different teams and land one of the richest contracts once this season concludes.

If this truly is his final season with the Astros, why not go out on top and win one more title before moving on?

Let's hope this "Last Dance" for Correa is a slow one, so we can all enjoy it a little longer.

Will Dusty's experience prove to be a difference-maker?

Dusty Baker's experience could be beneficial for Houston's chances of hoisting another trophy as he has managed teams in parts of 24 seasons.

He's the only skipper to ever lead five franchises to the postseason and obtain more than 2,000 career victories.

This is the second time he as taken a club to the World Series. He took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the Fall Classic but lost to the Angels in seven games.

It's safe to assume the 72-year-old seems eager to win his first championship as a manager to cap off a Hall of Fame career.

Final projection

As previously mentioned, the Astros are favored to win this series. If Houston can continue to stay hot at the plate, receive solid outings from their pitchers and just play Astros baseball, there is a good chance this city will have yet another Commissioner's Trophy in their display case.

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