THE Houston Astros picked a fine time to hand the Atlanta Braves their first home loss of the postseason.
Fresh off overcoming a grand slam in the first inning, the Astros will aim to stave off elimination again on Tuesday night when they host the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the World Series.
A winner-take-all Game 7, if needed, is scheduled for Wednesday night.
The Astros don’t have to look too far to find reasons for optimism despite trailing 3-2 in the Series.
“We were down 3-0 last year (to the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2020 American League Championship Series); we forced a Game 7,” Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said after Sunday’s 9-5 win in Atlanta. “Now we (were) down 3-1; why can’t we force a Game 7 again?”
Correa collected three hits and two RBIs Sunday for Houston, which would become the first team since the 2016 Chicago Cubs to rally from a 3-1 series deficit and win the Fall Classic.
Yuli Gurriel also had three hits Sunday to improve to 19-for-57 (.333) this postseason.
“The pressure’s still on us because they’ve got the lead,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “They’ve got to win one, and we’ve got to win two. But the fact is we are going home.”
After splitting a pair of bullpen games, the Braves will turn to Max Fried to start on Tuesday. The left-hander has answered two strong playoff starts with two porous ones en route to posting a 1-2 record with a 5.40 ERA this postseason.
Fried, 27, yielded five runs on eight hits — including two homers — in an 11-2 rout by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 21 in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. He then surrendered six runs on seven hits in five innings of a 7-2 shellacking by the Astros in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday.
“You know, I always feel good when Max pitches. He always gives you a chance to win,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Like I say, our bullpen’s in good shape. Max has got full rest, and we should be good to go.”
Before Fried’s past two outings, he pieced together a string of 14 quality starts.
Houston is expected to turn to rookie right-hander Luis Garcia for Tuesday’s game as it bids to prevent Atlanta from securing its first World Series title since 1995.
Garcia, 24, will pitch on just three days’ rest after allowing one run in 3-2/3 innings in Game 3 on Friday. He threw 72 pitches in that outing, so a quick hook could be on tap Tuesday.
Garcia sports a 1-2 record with a 7.62 ERA in four appearances this postseason.
Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman has hit safely in all five games of the World Series. He is 11-for-31 (.355) with three homers, seven RBIs and five runs scored in his last nine games. — Reuters