Sean Pendergast

Astros Win Game 2 to Tie World Series 1-1: Four Thoughts

Dusty Baker and the Astros are headed to Atlanta all even at 1-1.
Dusty Baker and the Astros are headed to Atlanta all even at 1-1. Photo by Jack Gorman
Throughout this championship level window of Astros baseball, from 2017 through the current season, there have been certain things you can count on. On the good side, the Astros have been a literal lock to make it to at least the ALCS every season since 2017. On the down side, when the Astros make the World Series, it's been equally a lock that they lose Game 1.

Indeed, throughout the history of the franchise, the Astros have lost Game 1 of the World Series all four times they've made it to the Fall Classic. Tuesday's Game 1 of the 2021 World Series was particularly concerning because their number one starter, Framber Valdez, got shelled, and several slumping Astros continued to slump.

This team needed a win in the worst way on Wednesday night, and thankfully, they were able to get one, a 7-2 thumping. Thumpings have become the order of the day for these Astros:

Welcome back, Jose Urquidy!
After Valdez's brief outing on Tuesday night (2 innings pitched), which led to extensive work from the Astros' bullpen, the Astros needed at least a respectable outing from Jose Urquidy, their Game 2 starter, who came into this game with a postseason ERA of 27.00. Thankfully, Urquidy dialed back the clock, conjuring up some images of his stellar Game 4 outing in the 2019 World Series. Urquidy gave the Astros five much needed innings, giving up two runs and striking out seven. This kept Dusty Baker form having to go six or seven relievers deep like he's had to at other times this postseason. If there is a Game 6, it will likely be Urquidy getting the nod, and Wednesday night' outing should invoke confidence in Astro fans and Urquidy's teammates.

Astros were manufacturing runs early, like they were on an assembly line
Similar to the Braves in game 1, the Astros seized control of this game in the first two innings, and they did it with very little forceful power. The Astros' 5-0 lead was built via an assembly line of manufactured runs. The most pronounced hit in those two innings was Jose Altuve's double leading off the game. He came home on two sacrifice fly balls. In the second inning, the four runs were cobbled together via five singles and a throwing error. It was a classic 2021 Astros kind of inning, with lots of contact and astute base running, the kind of stuff that drives an opposing fanbase insane.

Damn, if it feels like it's been a while, it's because it's been a while
The Astros have played a ton of playoff games during this title-contending window of five postseasons. 69 games, as of last night, to be exact. However, if it feels like it's been FOREVER since you've seen a World Series win at Minute Maid Park, it's because it's been a LONG time. In 2018 and 2020, the Astros didn't make the World Series, and in 2019, they lost all four home games. So the last time the Astros won a home game in the World Series was the 13-12 thriller in Game 5 against the Dodgers in 2017 that ended like this....
Now, it's back to Atlanta, and Braves fans are understandably worried
While the scoreboard says each team won one game in Houston the last two nights, the most significant development from those two games was something that didn't show up on the scoreboard — the broken leg suffered by Atlanta number one starter (and former Astro) Charlie Morton. The Braves were likely already tossing a bullpen game in Game 4, and now they're left trying to figure out Game 5, as well. The Astros have their own set of challenges in Atlanta, with the games being played under NL rules, with no DH, but the pitching depth issues for Atlanta make the next three games a very slippery slope, and make Game 3 a virtual must win for the Braves.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast