World Series score: Braves beat Astros in Game 4 with back-to-back homers; Atlanta a win away from the title

The Atlanta Braves made a late comeback against the Houston Astros on Saturday night to take Game 4 of the World Series with a score of 3-2. The Braves now lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, meaning they are just one win away from their first World Series title since 1995.

Carried by a strong start from 38-year-old Zack Greinke and another post-season homerun from Jose Altuve, the Astros held a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning. At that point, however, the Braves began to come to the Houston bullpen. A single with two out of Austin Riley put Eddie Rosario in place, but the Braves were unable to do further damage. At the bottom of the seventh, however, Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler each run their own solo home by Cristian Javier to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. Per Elias, Swanson and Soler are the No. 8 and No. 9 to beat back-to-back homeruns in World Series history.

The Braves managed the win even though their starting pitcher, Dylan Lee, was only able to postpone one of the four batters he faced to begin the planned bullpen game. Kyle Wright followed him and made the heavy lifts as he only allowed one run – the homer from Altuve – in 4 2/3 innings of work. From that point on, four Atlanta relievers combined in four shutout innings. Will Smith worked the ninth for his sixth save of the post-season in 2021. Eddie Rosario also helped the case with a distance catch at the left field wall to rob Altuve of extra bases in the eighth. Astros hits in match 4 left 11 runners at base and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

Match 5 is scheduled for Sunday night back at Truist Park. A Braves win in Game 5 will make them the first team to win the World Series at home since the Red Sox in 2013. Here are five takeaways from Game 4.

Greinke gave Astros everything he had

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Zack Greinke gave the Astros everything they could have wished for in Game 4 and more. In what could have been his last MLB appearance – Greinke’s contract is out this offseason, and soon 39-year-olds are not always in demand – Greinke threw four pointless innings on 58 lanes. He had not thrown more than 37 lanes in a match since Sept. 19.

Greinke allowed four hits in his four innings (one single in each inning), and his 12 swings and misses were his most since he had 14 in a 7 2/3-inning start against Cleveland on July 4th. It was artistic. A veteran starter who cuts through a high-quality Braves series with wisdom and courage, not overwhelming speed and cracking balls designed in a pitching lab. It was refreshing, to be honest.

Greinke also got a hit! He started in eighth place in a row – Babe Ruth is the only other pitcher to hit higher than ninth in the World Series – and singled up to the middle in the second inning. The forthcoming collective agreement is expected to implement the universal DH, meaning Greinke may have registered the last blow of a pitcher in World Series history.

Four pointless innings (and a hit!) Is pretty much the best case scenario for Greinke at this point. He was limited to three short appearances by COVID-19 and a neck problem in September, and he appeared to be nearing the end of the line during his ALCS start against the Red Sox. Match 4 was not a true return effort for Greinke, but it was damn good.

The Atlanta bullpen kept the Astros in check

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By design, The brave leftist Dylan Lee got one of the shortest starts in World Series history. Lee was the opener in Game 4 – he is the first pitcher ever to start his first career in the World Series – and it did not go well. He stopped only one of the four batsmen he faced and was charged with a run. The four batsmen facing are the fewest of a World Series starter since David Wells left Game 5 in 2003 with an injury after a 1-2-3 first inning.

Kyle Wright inherited the bases filled with an out from Lee and allowed a run on a Carlos Correa ground out. He limited Houston to just one run, which was a good result, and he logged another four innings with only one run more allowed. The Astros went 0 for 8, leaving nine runners at base alone in the first five innings. They had chances to blow the match open, but did not.

Wright made room for Chris Martin, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson and Will Smith, who combined to throw four pointless innings to close out the game. Thirteen of the last 15 batsmen that the Astros sent to the plate made outs, and they did not have a runner advance beyond first base after the fifth inning. They had Lee and Wright early on the field but could not take advantage of it and it cost them.

Atlanta has held the powerful Astros – Houston led baseball in runs per game this season – to two runs or fewer in three of the four games in this series. That’s after the Astros scored at least three runs in each game in ALDS and ALCS. All in all, the Astros are 4 for 32 (0.125) with runners in scoring position in the series. Just a remarkable job of pitching and defending the Braves.

The Houston bullpen blew it

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By the time they entered game 4, the Astros relievers had allowed two earned runs in their previous six games and 27 1/3 innings. They then allowed three runs over 10 batters in the sixth and seventh innings to turn a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 deficit. Austin Riley got Atlanta on the board with an RBI single against Phil Maton in the sixth inning.

In the seventh, Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler beat back-to-back solo homeruns against Cristian Javier to give the Braves the lead. It was the first change of leadership in the series, and it’s the first back-to-back homers in Brave’s post-season history. Swanson’s home run came in a 0-2 count, the first 0-2 homer Javier allowed all season. For the action shots:

Soler’s home run is the second clear home run in the seventh inning or later in a World Series match in Brave’s franchise history. The other is Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews’ walk-off home run against the Yankees in Game 4 of the 1957 World Series. That was when the Braves called Milwaukee home.

Moreover, Soler is only the fourth player in history with a pinch-hit go-ahead home run in the World Series. Here is the list:

  • Jorge Soler, Braves vs. Astros in 2021 game 4
  • Ed Sprague, Blue Jays vs. Braves in 1992 game 2
  • Kirk Gibson, Dodgers vs. Athletics in 1988 game 1
  • Dusty Rhodes, Giants vs. Cleveland in 1954 Game 1

Overall, the Houston bullpen has been dynamite this post-season, though the reliefs cracked in Game 4. Brooks Raley, Maton and Javier scrapped just four of the 10 batters they faced on their way to blowing the 2-0 lead. Yes, the offense could have given them more respite, but sometimes you need your bullpen to get a 2-0 lead up and they could not do that in Game 4.

Altuve is now number two in postseason homers

Only one player in history has beaten more homeruns after the season than Jose Altuve. Altuve launched a solo homerun against Kyle Wright in the fourth inning of Game 4 – the Truist Park organist tried to enchant him by playing “It’s a Small World” while going for the record – giving him 23 careers after the season. Here is the all-time postseason homerun leaderboard:

  1. Manny Ramirez: 29 in 493 record appearances
  2. Jose Altuve: 23 out of 354 record appearances
  3. Bernie Williams: 22 out of 545 record appearances
  4. Derek Jeter: 22 in 734 record appearances
  5. Albert Pujols and George Springer draw by 19

It is not surprising that the list is skewed lately considering all the extra rounds and games they are playing these days. As for Altuve, he has five homeruns in 13 games this postseason and two in four World Series games. He has averaged a home run for every 38.8 record appearances in the regular season. In the off-season, it’s a homer for every 15.4 record appearances. The guy rises in October.

The Braves are a win away

The series is not over yet, but the Braves are in excellent position. They have a 3-1 series lead, and historically, teams leading 3-1 in the World Series have won the series 87 percent of the time. That’s 84 percent for all best-of-seven series. Bottom line: Atlanta has three chances to win one game to win its first championship since 1995. The Astros must win three games in a row against a Braves team that has not lost three games in a row to a single opponent since the end of August.

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