Astros force the series back to Houston

Astros stave off elimination with World Series Game 5 win over Braves

Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman
After some rough outings in the early games of the 2021 World Series, Houston's offense came alive in Game 5 to stave off elimination. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After some rough outings in the early games of the 2021 World Series, Houston's offense came alive in Game 5 to stave off elimination.

When your back is against the wall, you have no other option than to fight. The Astros had their backs pressed even tighter against the proverbial wall to start Game 5, but that wasn't the end of their story. After going down 4-0 on a first-inning grand slam by the Braves, the Astros rallied back to take Game 5.

Final Score: Astros 9, Braves 5

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 3-2

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy

Losing Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Valdez struggles and gives up a slam, but Houston claws back

When in a game facing elimination, the best thing you can do is get out to a hot start. That did not happen for the Astros, when in fact, the exact opposite occurred as the Braves would appear to put things out of reach in the very first inning. After Houston wasted a one-out walk in the top of the first, Atlanta loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the bottom half.

That brought Adam Duvall to the plate against Framber Valdez, and he delivered a momentous grand slam to put the Astros in a 4-0 hole. Houston did not hang their heads and give up, though, as, in the very next half-inning, they would cut the lead in half. After getting two on base, Alex Bregman, the now seven-hole hitter after being moved down the lineup, would deliver Houston's first run of the night with an RBI double. Martin Maldonado followed that with a sac fly, making it a 4-2 game.

Valdez was able to retire Atlanta 1-2-3 in the bottom of the second, and then in the top of the third, an RBI double by Carlos Correa cut the lead to one run before a game-tying RBI groundout by Yuli Gurriel made it a brand new ballgame at 4-4. Valdez's last inning came in the third, as a leadoff homer by Freddie Freeman would put the Braves back on top 5-4. Houston's starter would face three more batters, getting two outs before a walk to end his night, as Yimi Garcia would come in to finish the frame.

Houston takes the lead

Houston did not waste time showing they were going all-in for Game 5, as in the bottom of the fourth, they brought in Jose Urquidy, who was able to erase a leadoff single for a scoreless inning. The Astros got a much-needed big top of the fifth, loading the bases on two singles and an intentional walk before Martin Maldonado would tie the game with an RBI walk. The Astros then pinch-hit Marwin Gonzalez in the pitcher's spot in the lineup, and in shades of the 2017 World Series, he delivered a go-ahead two-RBI single to make it a 7-5 Houston lead.

Phil Maton took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the fifth, and despite a two-out double, he was able to maintain the new two-run lead. He returned in the bottom of the sixth and was again able to strand a runner after giving up a one-out single but retiring the next two batters. Houston padded their lead in the top of the seventh, getting a one-out double by Kyle Tucker, who then scored on an RBI single by Maldonado, his third run driven in on the night.

Astros avoid elimination and force the series back to Houston

Ryne Stanek had the bottom of the seventh, and he had a great inning, retiring the top of Atlanta's order 1-2-3 on twelve pitches. Jose Altuve led off the top of the eighth with a single, then stole second to get in position for an RBI single by Correa to make it a four-run game at 9-5. Kendall Graveman was next out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth, and he was able to strand a leadoff single by Austin Riley to send the game to the ninth.

After a scoreless top-half, Graveman kept going on the mound in the bottom of the ninth and finished off the win for Houston with a scoreless inning. The Astros completed their mission for Game 5, getting the victory to move the series back to Houston where they, with another win in Game 6, can force a winner-take-all Game 7 to erase the 3-1 deficit.

Up Next: Game 6 of the 2021 World Series will be on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park and will have a 7:09 PM Central scheduled time of the first pitch, but as far as starters go, both teams will have to figure that out between now and then.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Who holds the power in Houston? Composite Getty Image.

It should come as no surprise that after a slow start to the season, fans and media are starting to voice concerns about the organization's leadership and direction. The latest evidence of this involved Astros adviser Reggie Jackson and the comments he made on Jon Heyman's podcast, The Show.

Jackson discussed the Astros reported interest in starting pitcher Blake Snell. He said that ultimately, Snell was looking for a deal the Astros weren't comfortable with in terms of money and structure of the contract.

Which is interesting considering the Astros were okay with paying 5-years, $95 million for closer Josh Hader, but not willing to pay Snell 2-years, $62 million. We believe the opt-outs in Snell's contract were a dealbreaker for Houston. And of course the money played a role.

However, the Astros passing on Snell is not the intriguing part of the story. It was Jackson talking about the club's power structure in the front office and how they go about making decisions.

“Being fiscally responsible is what kicked us out of the Snell deal… That's too much for him… Between the 4 or 5 people who make decisions with the Astros, we don't play that game,” said Jackson.

Based on Jackson's comments in the interview, the decision makers are Jim Crane, Dana Brown, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Reggie. But not necessarily in that order. He also mentioned that they had conversations with manager Joe Espada and his staff, plus some input from the analytics department.

These comments add to the concerns we've had about the front office since Crane moved on from GM James Click and operated without a general manager for several months. Which led to the disastrous signing of Jose Abreu and to a lesser extent Rafael Montero.

Which begs the question, are the Astros in a better spot now with their front office? Many blame Dana Brown for the state of the starting rotation. While there were some red flags this spring, anticipating injuries to Jose Urquidy, Justin Verlander, and Framber Valdez is asking a lot.

But only bringing in Hader to replace all the innings left behind by Hector Neris, Phil Maton, Kendall Graveman, and Ryne Stanek always felt risky.

Finally, what can the Astros due in the short-term to weather the storm while Framber and JV rehab from injury?

And is Hunter Brown the biggest liability in the rotation?

Be sure to watch the video above for the full in-depth discussion.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome