Braves take 1-0 World Series lead
HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on Game 1 of the World Series (all times local):
Jorge Soler became the first player to begin a World Series with a home run and the Atlanta Braves beat the Houston Astros 6-2 in Tuesday night’s opener despite the loss of pitcher Charlie Morton to a broken leg.
Boosted by a strong bullpen effort, a two-run homer by Adam Duvall and a late sacrifice fly from Freddie Freeman, the Braves coasted in their first Series appearance since Chipper Jones and their Big Three aces ascended in 1999.
Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and the Astros mostly looked lost at the plate. This was their third World Series in five seasons — and first since their sign-stealing scheme was revealed.
Before the game, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said there were plenty of sleuths monitoring the dugouts, clubhouse and stands to guard against any possible shenanigans.
Soler’s no-doubt jolt into the left-field seats on Framber Valdez’s third pitch quickly took all the juice out of Minute Maid Park, quieting a boisterous, sellout crowd.
Morton was hurt on Yuli Gurriel’s comebacker leading off the second inning and left after striking out Altuve leading off the third. A.J. Minter got the win with 2 2/3 innings of one-run relief, throwing a career-high 43 pitches.
The Braves are three outs away from a 1-0 World Series advantage, leading 6-2 after eight innings in Game 1.
Atlanta took a 6-1 lead in the top of the eighth when Dansby Swanson drew a one-out walk, advanced to third on Jorge Soler’s infield single and scored on Freddie Freeman’s sacrifice fly.
Houston right fielder Kyle Tucker had a chance to nab Swanson after an aggressive send by third base coach Ron Washington, but his throw was well up the third-base line.
AL Championship Series MVP Yordan Alvarez led off the bottom of the inning with a triple off the wall in center against lights-out left-hander Tyler Matzek. It was the second triple in two games for the slow-footed Alvarez, who missed last year’s postseason following double knee surgery. He had one triple in his entire career before these past two games.
Alvarez scored on Carlos Correa’s groundout to make it 6-2.
The inning ended when Yuli Gurriel missed a homer by inches in left-center, then was thrown out at second after being slowed down by an ugly head-first slide.
Tyler Matzek threw a called third strike past Alex Bregman with a runner on to end the seventh inning, and the Atlanta Braves took a 5-1 lead over Houston into the eighth thanks to a big effort from their bullpen.
Luke Jackson struck out three in 1 2/3 scoreless innings before giving way to Matzek. The left-hander gave up a two-out single to Michael Brantley, then fanned Bregman.
Earlier in the inning, Jackson struck out Jose Altuve, leaving him 0 for 4 with three strikeouts — the first time the star second baseman has fanned three times in a postseason game. Altuve is 8 for 44 (.182) this postseason with three home runs and seven RBIs.
Atlanta had an opportunity to add on and open a bigger lead in the top of the seventh.
NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario doubled with one out off Phil Maton for his second hit of the game and 20th this postseason in 42 at-bats (.476). Adam Duvall walked, and Houston manager Dusty Baker summoned reliever Ryne Stanek for his ninth appearance of the postseason.
Stanek got Travis d’Arnaud to ground into an inning-ending double play. The initial call was safe at first base, but that was overturned following a replay review.
Houston’s Jake Odorizzi and Atlanta’s A.J. Minter combined to pitch the first scoreless inning of the 2021 World Series in the fifth.
Odorizzi induced a groundout by Eddie Rosario to start the inning. He then struck out both Adam Duvall and Travis d’Arnaud looking to end the top half of the inning.
Odorizzi didn’t make the ALDS roster but was added in the championship series because of an injury to staff ace Lance McCullers Jr. Odorizzi was a starter in the regular season but has been used exclusively in relief this postseason.
Michael Brantley hit a long fly ball with no outs in the bottom of the inning, but Rosario grabbed it on the warning track. Minter struck out Alex Bregman looking for the second out when he watched his 90.8 mph cutter sail by him.
Minter ended the inning when he retired ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez on a fly ball to center field.
The surehanded Braves let Houston on the scoreboard with a rare bobble in the field.
Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson booted Chas McCormick’s one-out grounder in the fourth — the first error by a Braves position player this postseason — that allowed Kyle Tucker to score from third and cut the Astros’ deficit to 5-1.
Tucker hit a one-out double off A.J. Minter, who replaced injured starter Charlie Morton an inning before. He advanced to third on Yuli Gurriel’s single, then scored when Swanson let McCormick’s routine grounder bounce off his right hand.
Minter struck out Martín Maldonado and got a popup from Jose Altuve to end the inning.
Morton had committed Atlanta’s only previous error this postseason.
Houston also posted its first zero of this World Series in the top of the inning.
Jake Odorizzi, Houston’s third pitcher of the game, struck out Jorge Soler and Freddie Freeman leading off the fourth. Ozzie Albies reached on an error by first baseman Gurriel before Odorizzi struck out Austin Riley, too.
Atlanta starter Charlie Morton has been removed in the third inning because of a right ankle injury.
With the Braves leading 5-0, Morton came up hobbling on the mound after striking out Jose Altuve on a 2-2 curveball to begin the bottom of the third. The right-hander grabbed at his ankle and was replaced by lefty reliever A.J. Minter, who was given as much time as he needed to warm up.
Morton was hit near the right ankle by Yuli Gurriel’s sharp groundout leading off the second. He stayed in the game initially and worked a 1-2-3 inning.
Minter gave up a double to his first batter, Michael Brantley, but retired Alex Bregman on a grounder and struck out AL Championship Series MVP Yordan Alvarez to keep Houston off the scoreboard.
Adam Duvall hit a two-run homer in the top of the third that chased Astros starter Framber Valdez and made it 5-0. Atlanta became the first team in World Series history to score in each of the first three innings of Game 1.
Valdez was relieved by Yimi García, who retired the next three batters.
Jorge Soler followed up his historic leadoff homer by driving in another run on a fielder’s choice grounder to put the Braves up 3-0 after two innings in Game 1.
The Braves had a chance to add more, but left the bases loaded when Austin Riley struck out on the 44th pitch thrown by Astros starter Framber Valdez.
Travis d’Arnaud and Joc Pederson had consecutive singles to start the second before both advanced a base on No. 9 batter Dansby Swanson’s flyout to deep center. Soler then hit a grounder fielded by shortstop Carlos Correa, who threw to third baseman Alex Bregman to get out Pederson while d’Arnaud was crossing the plate. Freddie Freeman then walked and Ozzie Albies had his second infield single before the strikeout by Riley.
Atlanta starter Charlie Morton, the former Astros pitcher, had a 1-2-3 bottom of the second. That started with Yuli Gurriel’s comebacker that ricocheted off Morton to first baseman Freeman, who later snagged Martin Maldonado’s liner for the final out.
Soler led off the 117th World Series with a homer, the first ever in the top of the first inning in Game 1 of a series, and Riley added a RBI double for an early 2-0 lead.
Valdez, who allowed one run over eight innings in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series against Boston, has already allowed six hits over two innings against the Braves.
Jorge Soler got this 117th World Series off to a smashing start.
Soler became the first player to hit a home run while leading off the top of the first inning in Game 1, lining a drive into the left-field seats at Minute Maid Park.
Making his first start since missing five playoff games after testing positive for COVID-19, the Atlanta designated hitter connected on a 2-0, right-down-the-middle pitch from Astros lefty Framber Valdez. A boisterous crowd fell silent as Soler’s no-doubt drive sailed into the seats.
The aggressive Braves weren’t done, either. Ozzie Albies beat out an infield single with one out, stole second and scored when Austin Riley doubled on a 3-0 delivery.
Braves starter Charlie Morton, who won Game 7 of the 2017 World Series for the Astros, also struggled at the outset. He gave up a one-out single to Michael Brantley, walked ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez with two outs and walked Carlos Correa to load the bases.
After a visit from pitching coach Rick Kranitz, Morton escaped, thanks to a nifty play by second baseman Ozzie Albies on a grounder by Kyle Tucker.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman also made nice plays to limit the damage.
Atlanta’s Jorge Soler has become the first batter ever to lead off a World Series with a home run.
Making his first start since returning from a positive COVID-19 test, Soler led off Tuesday night’s game with a drive to left off Houston’s Framber Valdez.
The 29-year-old Cuban took Valdez’s first two pitches for balls. Valdez then threw his third straight sinker, and with catcher Martín Maldonado set up low and outside, left the ball over the middle of the plate.
Soler, who had 14 home runs during the regular season, drove the 93.7 mph offering 382 feet, and it landed about four rows deep into the Crawford seats behind the 19-foot high left-field scoreboard.
While four batters led off the bottom of the first of a World Series opener with a home run, Soler became the first in 117 World Series to homer starting the top of the first of an opener.
After Atlanta manager Brian Snitker was introduced, he looked across the field at his son, Houston’s co-hitting coach Troy Snitker and made an encouraging gesture.
Houston manager Dusty Baker and Brian Snitker embraced at home plate and he smiled and waved at good friend and Atlanta third base coach Ron Washington.
Emmy Award winner Keke Palmer sang a perfect rendition of the National Anthem. Her outfit, a stunning gold sequined jacket and skirt combination, glittered under the lights of the ballpark.
Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire 20-year career in Houston, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It was a perfect strike to infielder Aledmys Díaz.
Tremaine Jones, of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, delivered the game ball to the mound. He was accompanied by Astros Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell.
The nod to Houston’s sports history continued when retired Houston Texans star Andre Johnson announced: “Let’s Play Ball.”
Johnson was drafted in the franchise’s second year and is the team’s all-time leader in yards receiving, piling up 13,597 in 12 seasons. He wore an orange Astros jersey with his name and No. 80 on it.
Minute Maid Park’s retractable roof will be closed for Game 1 on Tuesday night, but MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said they’d pop it open for Game 2.
“Based on the weather forecast it’ll be open tomorrow,” he said before Tuesday’s game.
Morning thunderstorms are expected Wednesday, but it is predicted to be clear with a temperature of 72 degrees for first pitch.
The roof has not been open this postseason and is rarely open during the season because of the hot and humid Houston weather.
Right-hander José Urquidy will start Game 2 for the Astros against Braves left-hander Max Fried.
It will be the sixth career postseason start, and second this year, for Urquidy. He allowed six runs (five earned) in only 1 2/3 innings against Boston in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series.
“It means a lot for me for sure. It’s going to be a big game for me for the team. I know that I have to win,” Urquidy said through a translator. “My last outing was for sure bad, I know, but there’s good days and bad days. I’m excited to compete, and I know that a lot of people are watching me for sure.”
Urquidy was the winning pitcher as a rookie in Game 4 of the 2019 World Series against Washington.
Fried is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three starts this postseason.
“Max is the natural to go No. 1 in Game 2,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Second baseman Jose Altuve hits leadoff for Houston in the World Series opener against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, among six Astros remaining in the lineup from Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.
Left fielder Michael Brantley, third baseman Alex Bregman, designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, shortstop Carlos Correa and first baseman Yuli Gurriel also return to the Series from the 6-2 loss to the Washington Nationals two years ago.
Brantley bats second, followed by Bregman, Alvarez, Correa, right fielder Kyle Tucker, Gurriel, center fielder Chas McCormick and catcher Martín Maldonado.
Left-hander Framber Valdez is on the mound.