HOUSTON — This wasn’t the star-powered, tape-measure home run, catch-us-if-you-can version of the Astros’ offense that led the Major Leagues in runs scored in the regular season and tore through the White Sox and Red Sox in the playoffs.
The off-brand version of offense the Astros displayed in taking control of Game 2 of the World Series may not have been as recognizable to the crowd at Minute Maid Park, but Houston’s five singles in a six-batter stretch in the second inning got the job done just the same.
The Astros passed the bat along the line and pushed across four runs in the second inning against Braves starter Max Fried to pave the way for a 7-2 victory to even the Fall Classic at 1-1 heading to Atlanta for Game 3 on Friday.
“It happened fast,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “It gets to be like a feeding frenzy, and everybody wants to get in on it. I was just hoping that we could score some more, because you know they were going to threaten before too long. You never really feel comfortable during these playoffs and the World Series. You’re always wanting more.”
“The second inning, when they scored, it was kind of a weird inning,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It wasn’t like [Fried] was getting banged around. Balls that found holes, checked swings, we threw a ball away. It was just a weird inning.”
Fried struck out Carlos Correa to start the second before the Astros put together a string of soft hits and wore out the basepaths. Here’s how it went down:
• Kyle Tucker lined a single up the middle with a 94.4 mph exit velocity.
• Gurriel followed with another single up the middle at 84.2 mph off the bat (Tucker went to third).
• Backup outfielder Jose Siri hit a broken-bat dribbler (51.5 mph off the bat) past the mound to second baseman Ozzie Albies, whose throw was late to first base. Siri went a scorching 32.1 feet/per second down the line to get an infield hit and drive in Tucker (Gurriel to second).
• Martín Maldonado followed with Houston’s fourth consecutive hit, shooting it through the hole on the left side of the infield to score Gurriel. Siri took off for third and drew an errant throw from Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario, allowing Siri to bolt for home screaming “Vamos! Vamos!” after he slid across the plate.
“Those are moments that you really have to live,” Siri said. “You have to live those moments because it’s not something that happens very often.”
After Altuve made an out, Michael Brantley stroked a single to right to score Maldonado. Just like that, the Astros were up 5-1.
Perhaps the most unlikely development in the Astros’ four-run second is that the three outs were made by Correa, Altuve and Alex Bregman — three-fourths of Houston’s star right-hand-hitting infield (along with Gurriel) that played in its 69th playoff game together Wednesday.
“I think I told Siri that his broken-bat single, the way he ran to first and then the first-to-third and the scoring, was probably what gave us the win tonight,” Altuve said. “He just plays hard every day. He brings energy to our team. He’s just happy he had a good game and helped us win.”
Aggressiveness is Siri’s calling card, and it paid off in the second inning. He also struck out swinging in his ensuing three at-bats, which is why the Astros were able to pluck him off waivers in the spring. Siri is a free swinger, but he made just enough contact in his first career World Series game.
And for one night, he fit right into the Astros’ lineup.
“I’m an aggressive player,” Siri said. “I’m always looking for the opportunity to take the extra base. So that’s just what I was doing in that situation, was trying to be aggressive and get to the next one. I was just really excited for the situation, but not nervous.”