The Atlanta Braves stole home-field advantage for the World Series on Tuesday in Game 1 by defeating the Houston Astros, 6-2, at the tough Minute Maid Park.
Fresh off an intense battle against the favored Los Angeles Dodgers, starting off on the right foot was a priority for manager Brian Snitker and the Braves as a whole.
Atlanta relentlessly attacked Houston starter Framber Valdez, who just couldn’t get going on the mound.
The Braves’ pitchers also did their job, limiting MLB’s best offense to a meager two runs.
The most eye-opening development of the night was the way the Braves bullpen went to work and answered the call when starter Charlie Morton had to abandon the game with a broken right fibula.
Morton, who usually goes six or seven strong innings, could only complete 2.1 frames before departing in the bottom of the third.
In the second inning, he was hit in the leg by a line drive, but kept pitching.
Impressively, he was striking guys out and actually rounding into form when his leg just couldn’t hold any longer.
As it turns out, Morton had suffered the injury after being hit by the come-backer: he threw 10 pitches after the incident in the second and six in the third before going out with the trainer.
Throwing 16 pitches on a broken leg is really something, but just isn’t sustainable.
You want to talk about tough: Charlie Morton struck out Chas McCormick, got Martin Maldonado to line out and struck out Jose Altuve pitching on a broken leg.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 27, 2021
The bullpen, thankfully for them, was ready for a long night.
A.J. Minter took the hill for the visitors.
Usually a short-outing type of guy, he stayed on the mound for 2.2 impressive frames in which he surrendered three hits and a run.
He gave away nothing in the form of walks, and struck out three Astros.
Minter’s outing was absolutely huge for the Braves because it took them to five innings, and with a lead.
Valdez had allowed five earned runs early in the game, so by the time Minter left the mound, Atlanta was up 5-1.
Then, Luke Jackson took the mound.
An Incredible Outing For The Braves Bullpen
If you remember the NLCS, you know that Jackson was the one who blew Game 3 against the Dodgers by allowing four runs in 0.1 frames.
Pitching well was very important to him, as he needed to prove to the world that outing was just a blip.
He did just that, covering 1.2 scoreless innings in which he only conceded a single hit, with no walks and three punchouts.
Tyler Matzek, Atlanta’s postseason hero in the bullpen, conceded the only additional run the Astros scored on the night, but took the Braves to the ninth inning with a comfy lead.
With a four-run advantage, closer Will Smith did his work and pitched a frame with only a walk in the box score.
All in all, it was a tremendous outing for the bullpen: yes, there is a chance the unit is somewhat tired for Game 2, but the win is all that matters at this point.
Travis d’Arnaud on the Braves relievers: “Every single person in that bullpen has a huge heart, has huge fight. I don't know if I'm supposed to say this, but they've all got big nuts too.” (Ever polite, he apologized to MLB PR for the language as he left the room.)
— Emma Baccellieri (@emmabaccellieri) October 27, 2021
In a night in which Atlanta lost its ace in the third inning and disaster was looming, the relievers knew how to put out the fire.
Atlanta is 1-0 in the World Series against Houston largely because of its bullpen.