The Houston Astros battled their way back into the World Series, staving off elimination in Game 5 after a significant shake up to their lineup.
The offense that seemed to sleepwalk through Games 3 and 4 of the World Series woke up just in time to keep the Astros championship hopes alive. Granted some of the blame can be laid on not getting a chance to take batting practice on the field and adjusting to the batter’s eye in an unfamiliar stadium.
That still doesn’t account for two runs over the course of 18 innings in Atlanta prior to their breakout in Game 5. Alex Bregman dropping to the seventh spot in the batting order gave Yuli Gurriel some much needed protection.
After two intentional walks in game four took the bat out of the 2021 American League batting champion’s hands, manager Dusty Baker had to find a way to make sure Gurriel got to take the bat off his shoulder.
His move paid off and Bregman even responded in the seven hole hitting a double that you could argue sparked not just the turn around of the game but potentially the series.
There’s still one more move that manager Dusty Baker should make for the Astros’ lineup.
It’s been no secret that as amazing as Yordan Alvarez was in the ALCS, batting .522 and taking home MVP honors for the series, he’s been the exact opposite in the World Series.
The Atlanta Braves seem to have adopted a bend don’t break philosophy and have definitely chosen walking Alvarez over giving him something good to hit in hopes he gets frustrated with the bat on his shoulders and extends the zone. It’s been working.
In the ALCS against Boston, Alvarez walked twice the entire six games series. He’s already walked five times in this World Series. Coming off a hot hitting performance, his frustration at not getting pitched to could be leading to trying to do too much.
In the first game of the series Alvarez saw 17 pitches in four at bats. In game five he saw 13 pitches in five at bats including his final one, a very ugly five pitch strikeout to Drew Smyly.
Also keep in mind this year Alvarez lead the team in strikeouts with 145 compared to 50 walks over 598 plate appearances. For comparison’s sake here are the other Astros hitters with over 500 plate appearances.
- Jose Altuve– 91 strikeouts to 66 walks over 678 plate appearances
- Carlos Correa– 116 strikeouts to 75 walks over 640 plate appearances
- Yuli Gurriel- 68 strikeouts to 59 walks over 605 plate appearances
- Kyle Tucker– 90 strikeouts to 53 walks over 567 plate appearances
- Michael Brantley– 53 strikeouts to 33 walks over 508 plate appearances
Alvarez has the most swing and miss in his game amongst the Astros current roster which are rally killers if you don’t find a way to put the ball in play with hard contact, especially with how much traffic the Astros are creating.
Kyle Tucker this series has been selectively aggressive at the plate and is leading the team regulars in batting average (tied with Gurriel) at .333, on-base percentage at .429 and OPS at .873.
Despite his propensity for first pitch swinging he’s still worked three walks to two strikeouts in the first five games of the series.
There’s only one guaranteed game left in the season and baseball is a game of streaks. If you’ve already moved a struggling Bregman down, why not do the same for Yordan and go with your best option at the clean-up spot?
It could be the difference between celebrating a championship on your home field or watching your opponent do it.