'Just got beat': Astros optimistic after G1 loss

October 27th, 2021

HOUSTON -- There are things buried in the Astros' 6-2 loss to the Braves in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park that give manager Dusty Baker reasons to believe the sun will indeed come up Wednesday. The Astros certainly didn't play their best game, but clunkers like these have been few and far between this year.

Perhaps that alone should give Baker reasons for optimism, but a closer look reveals there are several reasons the Astros should come to Minute Maid Park for Game 2 on Wednesday with the same hopeful mindset for the best-of-seven series they had prior to Game 1.

Here are four takeaways from the Astros' Game 1 loss:

Hey, it's a long series
Losing Game 1 of a best-of-seven series, even at home, doesn't mean the Braves have taken control of the series. Far from it.

Sure, the Braves came to Houston hoping to at least split the two games at Minute Maid Park, and they've checked that box. If they win Game 2 on Wednesday and head back to Atlanta with a 2-0 lead, then maybe the Astros should locate their panic button.

The Astros are now 0-4 all time in Game 1 of the World Series, including a loss to the Dodgers in 2017 at Dodger Stadium. You remember how that turned out. The Astros rallied to win Game 2 in dramatic fashion and wound up winning the Fall Classic in seven games.

"This team is excellent at forgetting yesterday if you have negative events like we did today," Baker said. "I mean, you go in our clubhouse, I've never seen these guys worry. They know they can play, and they know they're going to rebound."

Still, teams taking a 1-0 lead in any best-of-seven postseason series have gone on to win that series 118 of 184 times (64 percent). That includes 21 of 26 times (81 percent) in the World Series, since 1995.

Odorizzi's effectiveness could loom large
With recording only six outs in his Game 1 start, the Astros' bullpen already is being put to the test in the World Series. That's what made the work of reliever a promising development in the series going forward for Houston.

Odorizzi threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and no walks with five strikeouts. He threw 42 pitches and should be available to pitch in relief in Game 3 or, more importantly, Game 4. That's when the Astros are expected to rely heavily on their bullpen in a game likely to be started by , the veteran who's stretched out to only 50 pitches or so.

"He did a very good job keeping that game where it is, also taking some pressure off our bullpen," Baker said. "Like I said, our bullpen did an excellent job tonight, and they played a good game. Sometimes you get beat, and sometimes you give them the game. We didn't give them anything tonight. We just got beat tonight. They played a very good game."

Odorizzi helped the Astros reset their bullpen in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series by throwing four innings in relief. That was instrumental in the Houston bullpen being able to piece together 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a Game 4 win that swung the momentum in its favor.

Get well, Charlie
The injury to Braves starter -- and 2017 Astros World Series hero -- Charlie Morton could be good news for the Astros. Morton suffered a right fibula fracture after being struck by a grounder in the second inning, ending his season. The Braves will be able to replace him, but they've lost one of their top arms going forward.

"We've been through this many times this year, losing key components to our club. I mean, really key components," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We're going to continue. It's not going to be an excuse or anything else. We're going to go out and continue to try and win games."

Snitker didn't have a plan for how the Braves would replace Morton, though it's safe to assume his loss will stretch Atlanta's pitching a little bit thinner later in the series. Not that any Astros were happy to see their former teammate leave the field with such an unfortunate injury.

"I have all the respect in the world for Chuck," Astros outfielder Michael Brantley said. "He's a great, great human being, great pitcher, great person. You never want to see anybody get hurt. I hope he comes back well. … That was tough."

Offense shows life
The two runs scored by the Astros in Game 1 marked their lowest offensive output of the postseason. The Astros weren't without their chances, though, beginning in the first inning when they loaded the bases and failed to score with -- who had hits in the fourth and sixth innings -- grounding out.

When Gurriel led off the second with a scorching grounder at 102.4 mph off the bat that struck the leg of Morton and rolled towards first for an easy out, you got the feeling this might not be Houston's night on offense. A line drive out off the bat of catcher Martín Maldonado ended the second, and the Astros proceeded to go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They ended the night with six outs on balls hit 95 mph or better.

"As a hitter, you can't guide the ball," Baker said. "You wish you could. But your job as a hitter is get a good pitch to hit and then try to make a good pass at it and hit it hard. After that, it's out of your control."