With their backs against the wall, the Houston Astros answered the call and beat the Atlanta Braves 9-5 in Game 5 of the 2021 MLB World Series.
The series is now 3-2 in favor of the tough Braves, as both teams will travel to Houston to play at least a crucial Game 6.
Game 7 will be dependent on whether the Astros can win on Tuesday night and tie the series.
For now, the Astros are surely thinking about Game 6 while we recap what happened on Sunday night.
When one sees that Houston won and scored nine runs, the players that immediately come to mind are Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, and the like.
And while Altuve and Tucker both scored a couple of runs and Correa had three hits, the night belonged to the lesser names: the unsung heroes behind the victory.
Unlikely Hitting Performances
Catcher Martin Maldonado, a career .212 hitter who is in the lineup because of his game-calling ability and superior defense, came through with three RBI on Sunday.
In the top of the second inning, he helped cut the Astros’ deficit to 4-2 with a sacrifice fly that plated Tucker.
Then, in the top of the fifth, Maldonado once again drove in a run, this time with a bases-loaded walk that was good enough to tie the game at five runs per side.
In the top of the seventh, with the Astros up 7-5, a run-scoring single by Maldonado, who hit .172/.272/.300 with a hideous .573 OPS, put the game 8-5.
Martin Maldonado is up to something tonight! pic.twitter.com/ckvVTWAb7o
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) November 1, 2021
Pitcher Zack Greinke also came through, but with the bat, with a key pinch-hit single.
Yes, you read that right.
Another pinch-hitter, Marwin Gonzalez, was the one who broke the 5-5 tie in the top of the fifth episode, with bloop single that scored Bregman and Yuli Gurriel.
Thanks to these unlikely contributors, the Astros scored enough runs to put the game out of reach and earn the right to go back to Houston.
But as it turns out, the unsung heroes weren’t only on the hitting side for the Astros.
Starting pitcher Framber Valdez once again failed to pitch a good game, allowing five runs in 2.2 innings.
The Bullpen Answered The Call
That means the Astros’ bullpen had to step up in order to give the offense an opportunity to come back into the game.
Both ended up delivering huge performances.
After Valdez couldn’t complete the third frame, Yimi Garcia got the out.
Jose Urquidy, who started Game 2, hurled a scoreless frame.
Then, Phil Maton took the Astros into the seventh by pitching two crucial scoreless innings.
Fell behind 3 & 1 in a 2-run game. Phil Maton with the fan of the night. pic.twitter.com/mBoF3HXPfp
— Dinn Mann (@mooseoutfront) November 1, 2021
Known contributors Ryne Stanek and Kendall Graveman pitched one and two episodes, respectively, to complete the comeback victory.
The Astros’ bullpen conceded no runs in 6.1 frames on Sunday night, and Maton’s performance was particularly impressive, as he didn’t give away any walks and struck out three.
Now, thanks to these saviors, Houston has the opportunity to come back in the series and win the Fall Classic.
Granted, it will be very difficult, as they need two victories, but they have a fighting chance.