Similar to Game 1, Game 2 of the World Series lacked the usual tension and drama we love to see in the Fall Classic. The Houston Astros led 5-1 after two innings and the Atlanta Braves never really threatened after that. The closest they came to making the Astros sweat a little came in the top of the fifth when Freddie Freeman hit a two-out RBI single off Jose Urquidy to make it 5-2, but Urquidy got Ozzie Albies to ground out to first.
Max Fried's pitching line looks ugly for the Braves with six runs in five-plus innings, but it was one of those games where the Astros kept hitting groundballs with eyes, especially in the four-run second when all five hits in the inning came on grounders. It was really just bad luck more than anything as only one of the five was a hard-hit ball. Brian Snitker did leave him for a couple batters too many, leading to another run in the sixth, but it's hard to blame Fried too much.
The Braves' defense has mostly been on lockdown mode this postseason, but that inning was helped by Eddie Rosario's throw to third when nobody was covering, allowing Jose Siri to score, and later in the game Albies dropped the ball trying to turn a double play, allowing another run to score.
In one sense, the blowout score made things easier for Snitker, as he was able to stay away from his four top relievers, who had to combine for 20 outs in Game 1 after Charlie Morton's injury. That means A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith will all be in good shape when the series shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Friday. The Houston bullpen has been excellent in the postseason as Cristian Javier has now thrown nine scoreless innings and Phil Maton, Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly continue to look sharp.
The shift in venues also means the elimination of the DH, which brings the managers into the game a little more. Dusty Baker will also have to face a difficult decision on what to do in his outfield. If he wants to get both Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez in the lineup against Ian Anderson, that means moving Kyle Tucker to center field, where he has played just 28 innings this season.
He's probably OK out there, but nonetheless an Alvarez-Tucker-Brantley outfield makes you worse at all three positions (Alvarez is worse than Brantley in left, Brantley is worse than Tucker in right, and Tucker is likely worse than Chas McCormick or Siri in center). As we saw in Game 2, defense matters, but Alvarez and Tucker rank 1-2 in the postseason in OPS for the Astros and the steady Brantley is hitting .352. Baker probably plays all three lefty sticks and it's hard to argue against that. --David Schoenfield
Read more: Our experts' predictions
Closer to history for Jose Altuve
Jose Altuve greeted Drew Smyly with a home run off a first-pitch fastball, leading off the bottom of the seventh by sneaking a fly ball just inside the left-field pole for a 7-2 Astros lead. It was Altuve's 22nd career home run in the postseason, tying him with Bernie Williams for second on the all-time list, behind Manny Ramirez's 29. While Williams did it in 121 games, Altuve has required just 75. Altuve had struggled in the ALCS, hitting .125 (although with two home runs), and then went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in Game 1. But he doubled and scored in the first and now homers.
Urquidy stays steady
Urquidy gave the Astros five solid innings, but the Braves hit four balls off him at 90-plus mph in the fifth inning, so you have to think Dusty Baker would have went to the bullpen in the sixth inning - especially with the Braves past the top three hitters in the lineup (two lefties and a switch-hitter). That meant five of the next batters in the Atlanta lineup are right-handed, so bring in one of your tough righties in the bullpen. Indeed, Cristian Javier warmed in the Houston bullpen. He held righties to a .155 average in the regular season and has tossed 7⅔ scoreless innings in the postseason. Look for Baker to try to get two innings from Javier and then Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly for the eighth and ninth.
Houston heats up
Well, that escalated quickly. The Astros scored three runs in the bottom of the second on two ground ball singles (94.4 and 84.2 mph exit velocity), an infield single (51.5 mph) and another ground ball single (89.1 mph) -- not a hard-hit ball in the bunch (a hard-hit ball is classified as 95-plus mph). The Astros also got help from a horrendous defensive play by the Braves that even a Little League team shouldn't commit. On Martin Maldonado's base hit to left field -- that's the 89.1 mph one -- Braves third baseman Austin Riley set up too deep to cut off the throw home, even though there was no chance to make a play there. With shortstop Dansby Swanson in shallow left field after trying to field the base hit, nobody covered third base, so the speedy Jose Siri (he beat out that infield hit with an impressive dash to first) raced into third. Left fielder Eddie Rosario threw the ball there, and the ball rolled toward the dugout, allowing Siri to sprint home with the third run. Oh, and then Michael Brantley's two-out ground ball single scored Maldonado for a 5-1 lead.
At least that one was hit at 101.3 mph. Who says small ball is dead?
Evening the score
Jose Urquidy had four strikeouts through two innings for the Astros, but Travis d'Arnaud tagged him for a second-inning home run to tie the game. Urquidy has rarely beaten himself with walks, but he is an extreme fly ball pitcher and d'Arnaud jumped all over a 3-2 fastball up in the zone -- a disappointing result for Urquidy after being ahead 0-2 in the count. Small warning sign moving forward: The Braves have already hit three balls at 100-plus mph (including d'Arnaud's home run at 104.1). Urquidy has had some swings and misses, but the Braves are also hitting him hard. You know Dusty Baker wants to get some length from Urquidy, but he also won't hesitate to bring in Cristian Javier in long relief.
rock what you want 😤 pic.twitter.com/0ssnBkZGr8— Joc Pederson (@yungjoc650) October 27, 2021
Meanwhile, the Astros sought a win at home before the series heads to Atlanta.
Bounce back. pic.twitter.com/E81hLTvxNs— Houston Astros (@astros) October 27, 2021
Would you rather do "homewrk" or attend the World Series? This young fan had made the tough decision to support his team Wednesday.
you can tell your teacher we said it's okay, kid pic.twitter.com/B0Ftujn2rR— Cut4 (@Cut4) October 28, 2021