Astros recover from Atlanta Braves' first-inning grand slam, send World Series back to Houston for Game 6

The Astros won Game 5 against the Astros despite not hitting a home run to send the series back in Houston. (2:53).
ATLANTA -- It is almost common to say that a team falling behind 3-1 in a best of seven playoff series has been pushed beyond their limits. The Houston Astros survived the worst and came out the other side.

After a first-inning grandslam by Atlanta's Adam Duvall that saw the Astros win 9-5, the World Series returned to Houston on Tuesday. Atlanta holds a 3-2 series lead.

According to Dusty Baker, Houston manager, the Astros were motivated by a simple concept.

Baker stated, "We didn’t want to stop here with the celebrations here."

Duvall's slam drew a crowd to Truist Park eager to see the Braves win their first title since 1995, and the first since they moved into its suburban Cobb County park of five years.

Houston was wrong at that point. The Braves became first to score four runs in a World Series clincher since 1961 Yankees. They went on to win the title by a 13-5 victory over the Reds 60 years ago.

ESPN Stats & Information reports that teams were 45-3 when they had a lead of four runs or more at any stage of a potential clincher. It's now 45-4. Baker, whose 2002 Giants lost a huge lead in a World Series clinching situation, felt it had to happen. It's good that there was still plenty of time.

Baker stated, "If it's going be happening, let it happen soon." It shouldn't happen at the end or in the middle. They came through. That's what matters."

The Astros are the team that, in a vacuum should be able to overcome a four-run deficit at the end of the season. Houston's postseason experience was extensive -- five straight trips in the ALCS, three pennants in five years -- and this offense was the most productive during the regular season. It also managed to be even more productive when the playoffs started.

This was before the World Series started. The Astros had a.206 team average in their first four games against Atlanta. Houston was out of the game on Friday with two hits and Houston managed only two runs in Saturday's 3-2 Game 4 loss.

Add the 3-1 series hole, Game 5's early 4-0 deficit, and the struggles of offense, and you have a pretty grim picture for everyone, except the Astros.

"I say keep fighting," Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said. "I am a big MMA fan and have seen many guys get knocked out. But they fight back to win the fight."

The Astros were not defeated by their early deficit, and the seeds of that turnaround may have been planted even before the game. The infield at Truist Park was covered with a tarp for two days due to cold, drizzle, and mist. This wiped out any batting practice. Sunday's game was held in cool, dry conditions.

Both teams were able get on the field prior to the game and complete their pregame drills. This was especially helpful for the Astros who had struggled to adjust to a park where they had played only two games before this series and none since 2017.

Baker stated that today felt like the World Series, because the players got to see the entire field and all the media. It felt like the World Series. The other games felt like they were just coming out of the dungeon. That was huge, that we were able to play on the field.

The Astros outscored Braves 9-1, regardless of whether that was the key.

After the offensive's struggles in Atlanta's first two games, Baker changed his lineup and dropped All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman down to seventh in thebatting order. Bregman was one beneficiary of the dry conditions. He took advantage of it by spending extra time in the batting cage prior to the game.

Bregman, who had only one hit in the first four games, drove in Houston's first run, scoring a ringing two-run homer in the top of Houston's second innings, just minutes after Duvall's grand final.

Correa stated, "I believe that was the key to us winning the game right then, bouncing right back right away." Bregman won the big double with those two runs. Confidence is building."

Bregman's two-run double was only the tip of the Houston lineup's iceberg. Martin Maldonado, a light-hitting catcher, scored three runs while batting eighth. Marwin Gonzalez scored a crucial two-run run as a pinch-hitter in the ninth-hole.

Maldonado stated that it doesn't matter how you bring a run in the playoffs, but it is important. You can get good at-bats regardless of the circumstances. It's not a problem. You work through it.

The Astros fought through their dance to the brink of elimination, and now they are heading back to Texas' heartland, still down but very much alive. The Braves could be the first team to win a championship on their own field since the 2013 Red Sox. Only the Astros are able to end that drought.

Baker stated that "the pressure is still on us because of their lead." "They have to win one, and we have to win two. We are going home, however.