ATLANTA, GA. — When you close your eyes and drift into the land where your dreams reside, your deepest desires come to life. When you are a young child, that desire is to play in the big leagues, but your dream is to step into the batter’s box as the crisp October air sends chills down your spine and send a pitch into a sea of fans in the World Series. As you round the bases, you’re jogging on a cloud that glides along the rhythm of a thunderous roar. Your team wins and is one step closer to winning a World Series championship.
That is the dream.
James Dansby Swanson and Jorge Carlos Soler lived that dream Saturday night in Game 4 of the 2021 World Series as they hauled their team to a booming 3-2 win over the Houston Astros at Truist Park.
As opportunities to score became stale and lack of production to capitalize with runners in scoring position — including a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth — Braves fans tensed at the thought of the series shifting to Houston, as the Braves trailed 2-0 entering the seventh inning.
It wasn’t until Swanson entered the batter’s box and brought to life a Braves offense that was relying heavily on the pitching staff to keep them in the game. The game-tying homer soared 359-feet into the night sky and over the right-field wall sending the Braves crowd into a complete frenzy.
Soler stood on the on-deck circle, eyeing every pitch Astros reliever Cristian Javier threw until Swanson connected on a 95-mph four-seam fastball against the amber brick wall in right field. At that moment, 29-year-old Soler knew what he had to do.
“I’m always looking for a fastball in those at-bats,” Soler said on his approach. “Then he threw me a couple sliders, and on that second slider, I felt like I got a pretty good look at it. On that third slider, I felt like he partially hung it a little bit, and so I was able to make that connection and get the home run.”
On a 2-1 count, Soler connected. A sprinting Yordan Álvarez scurries towards the short left-field wall with an eagerness to snag the ball from over the fence but the ball finds its home in the Astros bullpen, and Truist Park erupts.
Back-to-back home runs.
That was the third time in Major League Baseball history — 117 years — that a team hit back-to-back home runs in a World Series.
“It still sends chills down my spine when they start going crazy,” Swanson said as he reminisced on the roar of the crowd as he rounded the bases. “It’s a beautiful city. I love this place, and just thankful that they have our backs.”
The Houston Astros once again have their backs against the wall, as their World Series hopes begin to dwindle. Despite the loss, José Altuve was able to make postseason history when he hit a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning to give the Astros a 2-0 lead. The 31-year-old second baseman is now second on the postseason’s All-Time home run list with 23 home runs, surpassing New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams. Manny Ramirez has the most postseason home runs All-Time with 29 total in his 11-year postseason career.
The Braves and their fans did have a moment when their heart skipped a beat (or several), when Eddie Rosario chased down a rocket liner from the bat of Altuve. The speedy outfielder was able to make a sensational catch, as the ball perched itself in the crevices of Rosario’s glove as he made a last-second leaping attempt to tranquilize any rally the Astros had in their bones.
“I feel right now (like) I am Super Rosario. I don’t see the ball. I throw the glove and catch the ball. Everybody’s happy. I’m happy. It’s unbelievable what I did tonight. Wow, what a catch,” Rosario chuckled with the widest smile on his face.
The Guayama native made history and found himself writing his name into the record books after notching in a double in the second inning, becoming the only Puerto Rican to amount 23-hits in a single postseason.
“It’s incredible,” Rosario said on his prolific achievement. “I’m proud of myself for the work I’ve been able to put in. We’re just doing the same thing every day.”
The Astros will place their faith in the hands of Game 1 starter Framber Valdez. In the World Series opener, Valdez succumbed to a loss as he went two innings, giving up a total of five runs on eight hits and one walk.
The Braves are one win away from hoisting the World Series trophy and feeling the glory of a championship for the first time since 1995.
“27 more outs,” Swanson said as he anticipates Game 5 on Sunday night in front of the city he grew up in.
“We know that nothing’s done, nothing’s over. We’ve obviously learned that lesson before. We just got to go out and compete, and I feel like that’s the biggest motto for this team.”
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