Houston is back in it

Astros tie up World Series with Game 2 domination of Braves

Houston's offense showed up and carried the Astros to a win in World Series Game 2 on Wednesday. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

You can't change the past, and in sports, you can't change a game's outcome once it's in the books. The Astros were handed a lopsided loss to start the 2021 World Series, with the Braves coming into Houston and stealing Game 1 with early scoring. Still, according to Jake Odorizzi, there was no angst after the game in Houston's clubhouse:

"After the game last night, you would have thought it was a May 2nd loss. It wasn't like it was a World Series loss. That's why I appreciate this team and the leadership on this team because they definitely know how to handle adverse moments."

A team's mentality after a loss is one thing; how they perform their next game out is another. In Game 2, the Astros displayed that they are better than what they showed the night prior, building a lead that their pitching held to even the series.

Final Score: Astros 7, Braves 2

World Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy

Losing Pitcher: Max Fried

Urquidy gives Houston five strong innings while they build a lead

With a disappointing outing by Framber Valdez in Game 1, Houston hoped to turn the tide with a strong start by Jose Urquidy. He faced some traffic in the first, with the Braves knocking back-to-back two-out singles, but Urquidy would strand them by striking out the side with a strikeout to end the half-inning. That provided his offense a chance to strike first and grab the momentum, and Jose Altuve would be the man for the job.

Altuve started Houston's night at the plate with a double, then two productive outs behind him brought him home, with Alex Bregman getting the RBI on a sac fly to make it a 1-0 game. Atlanta quickly responded, though, with Urquidy watching a fastball find its way to the Crawford Boxes on a solo homer by Travis d'Arnaud to tie things up in the top of the second.

Urquidy finished that inning and stranded another runner, and then the Astros wasted no time moving things back in their favor. They tagged Max Fried for four runs in the bottom of the second, getting four-straight singles with one out, one an RBI by Jose Siri who legged one out in the infield, then another on a single by Martin Maldonado with a second run scoring on an error during the play. Michael Brantley capped off the big inning with an RBI single of his own, this one with two outs to extend the lead to four runs at 5-1.

Urquidy settled in with the new lead, retiring eight in a row before Atlanta would break that streak up with a leadoff single in the top of the fifth. The Braves would bring that runner home later in the inning on an RBI single by Freddie Freeman, but Houston's starter would finish the frame with the lead still three runs. That would be it for Urquidy as Dusty Baker would move to his bullpen in the top of the sixth. Urquidy's final line left him in line for the win: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 74 P.

Astros pad their lead

First out of the bullpen for Houston was Cristian Javier in the top of the sixth. He started his night with a strikeout, then erased a one-out double to leave another Atlanta runner in scoring position. More defensive miscues by the Braves afforded the Astros another run in the bottom of the sixth, with a potential double-play ball mishandled with runners on the corners, leaving the inning going and another on the board for Houston, making it 6-2

Javier returned to the mound in the seventh, getting one out and issuing a walk before Phil Maton would take over to get the final two outs of the inning. Altuve put his mark on Game 2 again in the bottom of the inning, launching a leadoff solo homer on the first pitch he saw in the at-bat, pushing the lead to five runs.

Astros take Game 2 to even up the World Series

With the heart of Atlanta's order due up in the top of the eighth, the Astros opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly to face the challenge. He started the frame with a leadoff walk, then retired the next three in a row to keep it a five-run lead. With the score still 7-2 going to the top of the ninth, Kendall Graveman entered to finish things off, and he would with a scoreless inning. The victory for Houston sets the World Series even at 1-1, making it a best-of-five in the remaining games.

Up Next: The Fall Classic shifts to Atlanta for the next three games, with both teams having a day off on Thursday before things pick back up with Game 3 on Friday at 7:09 PM Central. In that one, the expected pitching matchup is Ian Anderson, 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts this postseason, for the Braves and Luis Garcia, 1-1 with a 9.64 ERA in his three starts, for the Astros.

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Jae'Sean Tate had himself a night. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

No Christian Wood. No Kevin Porter Jr. No Jalen Green. No problem. Jae’ Sean Tate became a complete superhero for the Houston Rockets versus the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

He recorded 32 points, 10 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 5.0 blocks, and 2.0 steals and shot 73 percent from the field. With that stat line, he joined former Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon and other historic big men from the past, which Tim MacMahon reported.

Tate is known for his leadership and the ability to be humble. When a reporter asked Tate about the stat line, he said, “How many turnovers? Nah, 25 assists, that’s what sup! Can’t be mad at that.” An expression like that shows the importance of putting his teammates first before taking all the shine. Tate is providing more passion with communication and being the rock that the "Baby Rockets" can lean on.

Coach Silas' confidence in Tate is something built from last year and it shows. Those two have constant dialogue throughout the game, and it’s seen before the huddle or when Silas is standing on the sideline before he calls a play. Silas has run consistent sets for Tate, as he did that within the 15-game losing streak. He dialed up an out of bounds action with 33.4 seconds left, so Tate could make a clutch layup towards the rim.

“Long, long, long ago in his rookie year…we definitely have a bond and with those two guys out, we needed some scoring,” Silas said. “He was the guy who was playing the hardest from start to finish and down the stretch we ran that elbow iso for him. And he just went through his defender and finished. And he made some huge plays in the 4th quarter, which is what you need. Yeah, I trust him as much as anybody else, and he has earned that, and he deserves it.”

“That just shows the confidence Coach Silas, and my teammates have in me,” said Tate. “We lost some of our primary guys tonight. And not only me, but everybody also stepped up.”

His usage rating is slowly going up, which is posted at 18.9 percent per NBA stats. In isolation, Tate is averaging 1.00 points per possession, which puts him in the 75th percentile(!) per NBA stats. Tate is seeing more action out of the corner, so it can allow him to get to his left hand on offense. The elbow iso action is a play that Tate has run since high school, college, overseas, and in the NBA now. He mentioned that the set allows him to get comfortable when his number is called.

“That’s not my primary role and I think everyone knows that,” Tate said. “I am very confident [in] what I bring to the table offensively. Not only scoring wise but seeing the floor and being able to make [a] decision in space. And that kind of helps me when they overlook the scouting report.”

“[I've] been running that play since I was [in] high school. At Ohio St. I ran that. Even when I was overseas, Will Weaver, that was a play he put in. To have that called tonight, it felt familiar and it’s one of my strengths. And playing in the mid-post area and getting to my left hand.”

Tate was excellent for the Rockets on both sides of the ball, as he had a 116.9 offensive and 108.5 defensive rating with an 82.5 percent in true shooting versus the Thunder. Hopefully, Tate can be the leading catalyst again, as the Rockets face the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans, which are winnable games. It should become a six-game winning streak, as John Wall might play if his condition is right.

Up next: The Rockets face the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

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