Reporting from Minute Maid Park
Eddie Rosario, who batted fifth for Atlanta in Game 1, moved back into the leadoff spot in the batting order for Game 2. Atlanta Manager Brian Snitker said Rosario, a lefty hitter who has been on a tear all postseason, batted fifth in Game 1 because he was facing the left-hander Framber Valdez, and it was a formula that worked before. Jose Urquidy, a right-hander, is starting Game 2.
The Houston Astros have not played a game with the retractable roof open at Minute Maid Park since April. But Major League Baseball mandated that it be opened for Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday.
Dusty Baker, the Astros’ manager, said opening the roof could take away some of his team’s natural home-field advantage because his players were not used to the conditions.
“There’s always going to be a predominant wind direction, which with the roof open will probably take away some of our home-field advantage,” he said, “because we don’t really probably know much more how the ball’s going to carry in a predominant wind any more than they do.”
Then again, Houston has not won a World Series home game in their last five tries, losing four times to Washington in 2019 and Tuesday’s Game 1 to Atlanta.
Atlanta had a big lead on Tuesday when Eddie Rosario — who else? — mastered one of Minute Maid Park’s outfield quirks.
Yuli Gurriel swung on the first pitch he saw from Tyler Matzek and drove the ball high into left, where it hit just below the all-important yellow line (but still far higher than most outfield fences), bounced near the warning track and reached Rosario’s waiting glove. Rosario turned and fired to second, where Ozzie Albies tagged Gurriel to end the eighth inning.
But with Game 2 — and possibly Games 6 and 7 — to be played in Houston, it’s entirely possible we will see more unusual plays in the outfield before this series is done.
“I’d say it’s one of the trickiest outfields in the big leagues, just the way it bounces off the surfaces,” said Adam Duvall, who played center and right on Tuesday. With Minute Maid overflowing with strange things to hit — padding, brick, the outfield fence, safety fences, the scoreboard and a roof — Duvall said Atlanta’s outfielders had spent time ahead of the series practicing how to deal with their varied effects.
“We tried to hit on all that and tried to figure out where we need to be when it bounces off the wall,” he said. “That’s preparation. That’s the little things that people may not see at home, but that’s part of prepping. That’s part of what we do. We try to cover all the little things because little things become big things in games like this. That was a big play.”
Every park has its own ground rules. Here are some highlights of Houston’s:
If a batted ball gets lodged in — or goes through — the out-of-town scoreboard in left, it’s a double. The outcome is the same if a ball strikes the top of the scoreboard and bounces into the stands.
Staying in left, a batter homers if the ball hits the fence’s yellow line, or the top of the left-center railing “at a point above the stands,” and continues into the seating area. But if the ball bounces into the field, it’s in play.
In right, a ball is in play when it hits even the slightest part of the yellow line on the outfield wall and comes onto the field.
Atlanta fans woke up thrilled on Wednesday after their Braves won a World Series game for the first time in 25 years. But they can hold off — for now — on shutting down Peachtree Street for a victory parade.
A Game 1 win, after all, is no guarantor of a championship. Atlanta’s own World Series history shows that.
In 1996, the Braves won Games 1 and 2 over the Yankees and then lost the next four. Atlanta also took Game 1 of the 1992 World Series, but eventually lost the series to Toronto.
But in almost two-thirds of World Series’, the Game 1 winner has ultimately taken home the title. One of the exceptions: Houston, which faltered in Game 1 in 2017 and then won the franchise’s lone — and, many believe, tainted — championship. In fact, Tuesday’s loss moved the Astros franchise to 0-4 in World Series openers across 2005, 2017, 2019 and this year.
“We’ve moved past it,” Framber Valdez, the losing pitcher in Game 1, said afterward. “Tonight’s over. Tomorrow we’re going to come in here and try to win it and do everything we can to get our first win in the World Series.”
And Dusty Baker, Houston’s manager, said his team “doesn’t worry, and our team’s very confident.”
“We have the knack of bouncing back after losses, after tough losses because they don’t quit, they don’t give up, they don’t get down,” he added. “That’s the secret of sports.”
Baker would know: When he played for Los Angeles, the Dodgers lost the first and second games of the 1981 World Series. Then they pulled off four straight victories over the Yankees to give the franchise its first championship since 1965.
Atlanta has added the left-handed pitcher Tucker Davidson to its World Series roster to replace Charlie Morton, the Game 1 starter who fractured the fibula of his right leg on Tuesday.
Davidson, 25, has limited experience in the major leagues and has appeared in just five games for Atlanta in the last two seasons. He started four games for Atlanta in 2021, allowing 15 hits and eight runs in 20 innings of work. He did not earn a decision in any of his starts this season, when he struck out 18 and had an E.R.A. of 3.60.
He last pitched a major league game on June 15, when he left a game against Boston and afterward went on the injured list with forearm trouble.
Davidson will be filling the spot of one of baseball’s premier postseason pitchers, especially in winner-take-all games. A comebacker struck Morton in the second inning on Tuesday, but Atlanta has not said when, exactly, he was injured and he threw 16 pitches — and got three outs — after being hit.
The questions around the timeline, though, did not change the outcome that Morton’s season was finished.
“He wants to be on this stage,” Brain Snitker, Atlanta’s manager, said. “God bless him, I hate it for him. Really hate it for him. He’s such a great person, great person and teammate. I do, I really hate it for him because I know he’s really looking forward to this run with us. So we’ll move on.”
The options for Game 2 are eerily similar to those for watching Game 1.
Who: The Atlanta Braves vs. the Houston Astros
What: 2021 World Series, Game 2 (Atlanta leads the best-of-seven series, 1-0)
When: 8:09 p.m. Eastern time
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston
Watch: The game will be broadcast on Fox and streamed on FoxSports.com as well as streaming services like FuboTV, Hulu Live and YouTube TV.