AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Round 1 of Fall Classic belongs the Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta defeated the Houston Astros by 6-2 in Game 1 at Minute Maid Park. Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall both hit home runs for Atlanta, who now have three wins to their first title since 1995.
The Astros' solid performance in the bullpen was not enough. They must now win Game 2 to keep their home-field advantage and avoid falling into a deep hole before heading to Atlanta.
Notable Player Stats
Jorge Soler, DH ATL: 2-for-5 - 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R
Adam Duvall, CF, ATL: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
Michael Brantley, LF, HOU: 3-for-5
Kyle Tucker, RF/HOU: 2-for-4 and 1 R
Bullpen Saves Game After Braves Lose Morton
Negative news is not something that's often reported on by a team after they win Game 1 of the World Series. But that was the case with the Braves.
Charlie Morton looked well on his way to an impressive performance while allowing only one hit and striking out three batters in 2.1 scoreless innings. However, he was struck by an injury that ended his day. Atlanta reported that he had suffered a right fibula injury which will keep him out of the game until the 2022 season.
Morton was a key player in a Braves' rotation that was missing Mike Soroka throughout the season. He was expected to be in line for at least two to three games against the Astros.
Instead, the bullpen got thrown in the fire and was asked to guard a 5-0 lead.
A.J. Minter was brilliant and first, throwing 43 pitches. Chas McCormick scored one run, and Kyle Tucker scored on an error made by Dansby Swanson. However, Minter managed to escape runners on the corners and retire Jose Altuve by striking out Martin Maldonado.
Luke Jackson saved a scoreless sixth, striking out McCormick as a runner in scoring positions. Tyler Matzek retired two runners in the seventh and Tyler Matzek ended the frame by strikingout Alex Bregman.
Although Matzek was not effective in the eighth, he still managed to surrender just one run following Yordan Alvarez's leadoff triple. This was due in part to Eddie Rosario throwing Yuli Gurriel out trying to make a single into two. Will Smith sealed the deal with a clutch and extended performance from Atlanta's bullpen.
Astros Can't Overcome Valdez's Poor Start
It took just that long for Atlanta's lineups to welcome Astros starter Framber Valdez. Soler hit a solo homer, becoming the first Major League Baseball player to start the game's first inning with a long ball.
The Braves were just beginning to take on Valdez at the plate. Austin Riley scored Ozzie Albies' first run with a double. Soler added another RBI in the second inning with a groundout. Duvall extended his lead to 5-0 in the third with a two-run homer.
Duvall was Valdez's final batter. He failed to record an out in his third inning and gave up eight runs and five runs overall. This performance was far from what he had done in Game 5 of American League Championship Series, where he allowed one run over eight innings.
Houston's bullpen deserves a lot of credit for keeping them within striking distance.
Brooks Raley, Jake Odorizzi and Jake Garcia allowed just one run over seven innings. This performance could be a model for other series where the bullpen will be called upon in high-leverage situations.
It wasn't enough, however, to overcome Valdez’s poor start.
For Wednesday's Game 2, the series will continue in Houston.