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Just Keep Breathing: Astros Blow Past Braves in Game 5, Stay Alive To See Another Game

When adversities present themselves at your front doorstep, what do you do?

“I’ve learned that you have to keep breathing,” Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said a few hours before the start of staring an elimination game in the face in Game of the 2021 World Series. “You have to have the burning desire to succeed in your heart but the coolness of mind to control your heart. So I’ve learned to do that through breathing.”

Just keep breathing.

After Framber Valdez gave up a deafening grand slam to Braves beloved center fielder Adam Duvall, Baker and the Astros faced an early 4-0 deficit in the bottom of the first inning. It was absolute hysteria when Duvall scorched a 95-mph sinker into the right-field stands. 

Just keep breathing. 

When the stadium begins to shake, due to the invigorating roar from the crowd, the last thing you want to do is be continuous of your breathing. But that’s exactly what the Astros did in every pitch and every at-bat from that point forward.

The moment the Astros began started playing small-ball and knocking in runs with base hits and not the loud crack of the bat, the fear began to settle in. Braves fans would not witness their team celebrate a World Series championship win at Truist Park.

The Houston Astros offense found ways to stay on the Braves’ heels, starting in the second inning with an RBI double from a struggling third baseman Alex Bregman. 35-year-old Martin Maldonado followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Kyle Tucker to slim the Braves lead to two. 

The Astros would return to the batter’s box in the third inning and savor opportunities from the lacking bats that have failed to produce so far in the World Series. Carlos Correa trimmed the Braves lead by one as he notched in an RBI double. A grounder from Yuli Gurriel would silence the once electrified crowd with a grounder that would score Michael Brantley. 

“I say keep fighting,” Correa said after scathing an elimination game. “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. We’re going to stay confident, go out there and battle every single inning and try to win every pitch.”

ATLANTA, GA – OCTOBER 31: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros reacts after hitting an RBI single in the eighth inning during Game 5 of the 2021 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on Sunday, October 31, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Freddie Freeman would unload a massive 460-foot solo home run to gain back the lead in the third inning. The Braves leader smothered a slider into the seats in right-center field, reinvigorating the antsy crowd. The go-ahead home run would be Freeman’s sixth-career go-ahead homer in the postseason, the most in franchise history, and would be the longest home run of the 2021 postseason.

After intentionally walking Yuli Gurriel, the Astros would put a damper on the short-lived lead when a two-run fifth inning ensued. A life-breathing bases-loaded walk to Martín Maldonado would give the Astros their first lead of the night. 

Just keep breathing.

ATLANTA, GA – OCTOBER 31: Martín Maldonado #15 of the Houston Astros hits a RBI single in the seventh inning during Game 5 of the 2021 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on Sunday, October 31, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

“Did you guys notice how close he was to the plate on the bat against Minter?” Correa asked.  “You guys notice? That was sick.”

With the go-ahead RBI, the 35-year-old catcher would be the first catcher with three RBI in a potential elimination game in the World Series since it was done in 1977 by Steve Yeager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez would simmer in the ninth spot in the order and knock a single to ensure the Astros with a 7-5 lead.   

“It was amazing,” the 10-year veteran said following the Game 5 win. “I think everybody put good at-bats. It was teamwork. Everybody put good at-bats in the inning, starting with the leadoff guy in that inning, which it was Carlos, getting the 0-2 base hit to the middle … Then everything was going in a good line for us after that hit. I mean, Minter has been one of, I would say, the best pitcher in this series from their side. To put good at-bats against him, that gives you extra bounce too.”

The gutting loss for the Braves did not deflate their hopes of winning a World Series championship on the road. “They’re not going to quit. They’re not going to roll over. We’re playing for it all. We’re playing for everything right now,” Adam Duvall said after the Braves let the championship-clinching game slip through their fingers. “We’re playing for the dreams that we’ve had as a little kid. It’s not going to be easy. This time of the year, all throughout the postseason it’s not going to be easy. You’ve got guys that are willing to run through walls for a win.”

The Hoston Astros return home to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night for Game 6 of the World Series, with every hope of forcing a Game 7 for the fourth time in the past seven seasons. “All in all, we’ve got to keep fighting,” As Carlos said, we’re down 3-2 now, so we’ve got to take one pitch at a time.”

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