Give some candy to a kid and grab it back when it’s about to be eaten. On Saturday night, that’s exactly what happened to the Astros, who took a tough-luck loss 3-2 against the Braves to drop Game 4 and fell behind 3-1 in the World Series. Despite some history made by José Altuve and an unexpectedly good start from Zack Greinke, the Braves ambushed the Houston bullpen with two late home runs.
The Astros were pretty close to tying the series, but instead, they finished one loss away from saying goodbye to the hope of another World Series. But I have an undeniable truth for you: there’s more beyond the two long balls if you want to know why Houston lost this one.
In baseball, it’s simple: you can’t win if you can’t score. The Astros left 11 men on base and were hitless in eight at-bats with men in scoring position. The first run of the game came on a groundout by Carlos Correa in the first inning while the second one was thanks to a solo shot by Altuve — he now owns the second-most home runs in postseason history (23) and became the first player ever with five homers in three straight postseasons. But that was pretty much it for the Astros.
They failed to capitalize on Greinke’s strong performance. The veteran threw four shutout innings of four hits, no walks, and strikeouts while being super efficient as he used only 58 pitches (37 strikes). After him, Ryne Stanek pitched a scoreless fifth and trouble was around the corner for Houston.
Greinke got the job done tonight.— Houston Astros (@astros) October 31, 2021
4.0 IP // 0 ER // 3 K // 1-for-2 pic.twitter.com/XqRJjtlgVK
Manager Dusty Baker brought in lefty Brooks Raley to ideally retire Orlando Arcia, Eddie Rosario, and Freddie Freeman, but he only retired Arcia. After a one-out double by Rosario, Raley walked Freeman and was immediately replaced by Phil Maton, who let one runner score to make it 2-1 before striking out Travis d’Arnaud to end the inning.
With an almost non-existent margin of error for their pitchers, the Astros had Cristian Javier pitching for them in the eighth inning. Javier punched out Adam Duvall and, then, the worst came for Houston. Dansby Swanson and pinch-hitter Jorge Soler launched back-to-back home runs to put the Braves ahead in the score 3-2 — Yordan Álvarez tried hard to catch Soler’s dinger, but ended up beating himself with the left-field fence.
The rest was history. Luke Jackson and Will Smith got the eighth and ninth for Atlanta without allowing a hit and the latter got another save to end a painful night for Houston and its fans.
Will the Astros stay alive after Sunday’s game to go back to Minute Maid Park or will it be the end for them? We’re hours away from Game 5 (7:15 pm CT). Framber Valdez will try to guide Houston while the Braves have yet to announce their starting pitcher. Only seven of 45 teams have won the World Series despite losing three of the first four games. The Astros have the challenge of becoming the eighth one.