Saturday, January 29 2022

ATLANTA —The Houston Astros walked out of the interview room late Sunday night, and down the corridor, maybe 200 feet away, was the most beautiful sight they observed during their weekend stay in Atlanta.

Three dozen cases of champagne were stacked on the concrete floor. There were cases of Budweiser and Bud Light beer cans strewn alongside.

All sitting outside Atlanta’s clubhouse – unopened.

The Astros made sure there would be no party on this night at Truist Park, overpowering Atlanta 9-5 to force the World Series back to Houston, where Game 6 will be played Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

BACK TO HOUSTON: Atlanta finally cracks in Game 5 loss, fumbling potential World Series clincher vs. Astros

They still trail Atlanta, 3 games to 2, but most important, they are alive.

“The pressure’s still on us,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said, “because they’ve got the lead. But the fact is we are going home. We didn’t want to end here with the celebration here. We wanted to go home to give us the best chance to win with our fans.”

Astros catcher Martin Maldonado (15) congratulates relief pitcher Kendall Graveman (31) after defeating Atlanta in Game 5 of the World Series.Astros catcher Martin Maldonado (15) congratulates relief pitcher Kendall Graveman (31) after defeating Atlanta in Game 5 of the World Series.

Astros catcher Martin Maldonado (15) congratulates relief pitcher Kendall Graveman (31) after defeating Atlanta in Game 5 of the World Series.

The Astros, playing in their third World Series in five years, simply aren’t ready to see this reign end. They have the 2017 World Series championship flag hanging in their rafters and would love nothing more than to add another.

They showed off their pedigree Sunday, becoming only the fourth team in World Series history to win an elimination game when trailing by four or more runs.

The last time it happened, Baker was managing the San Francisco Giants in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. The Angels reversed the tables, won the game, and ultimately the Series.

This time, it was Baker’s turn.

Catcher Martin Maldonado, their No. 8 hitter who has five hits in 118 at-bats this postseason, drove in three runs. .

Marwin Gonzalez, who had not produced a hit since Oct. 3, dropped in a two-run single in the fifth inning that gave the Astros a lead they never relinquished.

And pitcher Zack Greinke, who started in Game 4, became the first pitcher to get a pinch-hit since Jack Bentley in the 1923 World Series.

So, do you believe now?

“Keep fighting,” said Astros All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa, who had three hits and drove in two runs. “I’m a huge MMA fan, and I’ve seen lots of guys almost knocked out, and they battle back to win the fight.

“We were down 3-1. Now we’re still down 3-2. I truly believe, if there’s one team that can accomplish that in this league, it’s us.”

When the Astros took the team bus back to their hotel with a flight scheduled Monday, there wasn’t a soul who had a doubt they could pull this off, especially going back home.

“We talk about it,” Correa said. “We talk about being confident and going out there and executing, trying to do whatever we can to stay alive and eventually win the series.

“We’re not going to give up. We’re not going to quit. We’re not going to back down.”

It was just five years ago when the Chicago Cubs overcame a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series over Cleveland, so certainly there’s recent evidence to show it can be done.

“We don’t really worry about what other people say or what they think,” Baker said. “It’s what you think of yourself, and what you think of each other on the team that really counts.

“These guys are together. They’ve been through many of these battles. They don’t know how to quit.”

It’s a team that was vociferously booed on the road. They were taunted and jeered from New York to Los Angeles. No one showed the least bit of sympathy for their 2017 cheating scandal.

All it did was make them stronger, closer, and as Atlanta discovered Sunday night, quite resilient.

“This team has a very strong mind, strong will dealing with adversity,” Baker said. “Dealing with booing. Dealing with the amount of negative energy that was cast our way throughout the year.”

So, down 4-0 in the first inning of an elimination game after Adam Duvall’s grand slam? No problem.

These are the Astros.

And they’re simply not going to go away.

“We need to keep fighting,” Correa said. “If it doesn’t work out, we can say we fought to the end.

“If it works out, that’s going to make for a good story.”

Stay tuned because this World Series, all of a sudden, is becoming a fight no one wants to miss.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: World Series: Astros delay Atlanta’s party plans with statement win

Source: Yahoo Sports

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