Late Homers is Atlanta at the peak of the championship

ATLANTA – Dansby Swanson held his right hand in the air as he hovered over bases. Enthusiasm slowly grew throughout the night as the sleepy figure of the Atlanta Braves began to awaken. But after Swanson’s equalizing home game hit from the top of the right wall of the court at the bottom of the seventh inning of the 4th game of the World Series, Truist Park erupted.

Moments later, Jorge Soler drilled a shot with a pinch, just over the left wall of the pitch, and the joy doubled. The players jumped out of the home dugout. Growing up as a Braves fan outside of Atlanta, Swanson screamed, applauded, and waved his arms as he watched Soler run. After the runner failed to reach a shooting position for most of the game, Atlanta was suddenly one win away from the title.

Atlanta trailed Houston Astros 3-2 for most of Saturday and took three games against one in a series of the best of seven. Atlanta entered the gradual season with the fewest wins (88) of any of the 10 teams in the playoffs and is now one win away from its first World Cup title since 1995.

For the second consecutive cold night in the suburbs of Atlanta, the home team made the strongest attack in baseball look weak. On Friday, Atlanta took a goalless draw in the eighth inning and held Houston without a goal. A day later, Atlanta fell behind early, but the throwing squad did enough to keep the game close to their attack.

Before the match, the team called on Atlanta fans to do a tomahawk chop, a tradition of singing and waving called offensive of several Indian groups. Among those who did so were former President Donald J. Trump and his wife Melania. (He repeated this during the Atlanta Rally in the sixth inning.)

In April, Trump called for a boycott of Major League Baseball after his commissioner, Rob Manfred postponed the annual All-Star Game from Truist Park over a new, stricter law on voting in Georgia. Atlanta CEO Terry McGuirk recently told USA Today that Trump called MLB to want to attend the game, and that the team was surprised but pleased him by giving him their apartment.

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Trump thanked Manfred and Randy Levin, president of the Yankees, for the invitation. An MLB spokesman later said: “As previously reported, President Trump has requested participation.”

With a few other reliable options to start Game 4, the teams turned to players with markedly different levels of experience. Houston fired Zack Greinke, a former Cy Young 530-time regular season winner of his career who was dropped off the field before entering post-season. Atlanta turned to rookie Dylan Lee to start the match.

Prior to that season, Lee’s only campaign in the major leagues was two appearances this year to help in the regular season. He became on Saturday the first pitcher in history to start for the first time in the big league in the World Series.

Not surprisingly, Lee grinded. He faced four punches, gave up one and two walks and knocked out just one. His replacement, Kyle Wright, another passer who spent most of the season in the lower leagues, took care of the lift.

Wright conceded five goals and three walks in four and two-thirds, but only one run. Greinke, who threw just four and two-thirds of substitutions this month and no more than 37 pitches in any trip, spun four substitutions with no results on 58 pitches. Offenses by both teams, particularly Houston, struggled to turn basic runners into runs.

After getting stuck by seven runners in the first three innings, the Astros broke through. When Wright left the quick balls over the center of the board in the fourth inning, Jose Altuve hit it over the center fence of the court for a solo kick that gave Houston a 2-0 lead. This moved Altuve into sole ownership of second place in home runs after the season (23). Only former Cleveland and Boston player Manny Ramirez (29) has more.

But when Atlanta manager Brian Snitker rode after one powerful reliever after another, his team’s players gained time. When left-hander Eddie Rosario doubled with one outing in the sixth inning, it was the first time Saturday had Atlanta a runner in a shooting position. He scored and halved his team’s lead when Austin Riley exposed the left field.

One game later, Atlanta broke into the lead. Strong throughout the season, Astrosa reliever Cristian Javier threw Swanson a quick ball 0-2 over the heart of the board. For his first home run this October, he broke through to the opposite field.

One shot later, Soler sent a 2-1 slider, also down the middle of the strike zone, over the fence and Atlanta closer to the title.

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