The Houston Astros haven’t played a game with a sunroof at Minute Maid Park since April. However, Major League Baseball mandated the opening for Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday.
Astros manager Dusty Baker said that opening the roof could take away some of his team’s natural homecourt advantage as their players are not accustomed to the conditions.
“There will always be a dominant wind direction, which will probably take away some of our home advantage with the roof open,” he said, “because we probably don’t really know how the ball is going to get in. A dominant wind is more of them.”
Houston, on the other hand, has failed to win a World Series home game in her last five tries, losing to Washington four times in 2019 and Game 1 to Atlanta on Tuesday.
Eddie Rosario on Atlanta Tuesday – who else? – He has mastered one of Minute Maid Park’s outfield quirks.
Yuli Gurriel swung from Tyler Matzek on the first pitch and drove the ball to the left where it hit just below the crucial yellow line (but still much higher than most outfield fences), bounced near the warning path and reached Rosario’s goal. The waiting glove Rosario turned and fired at the second, where Ozzie Albies tagged Gurriel to finish the eighth inning.
But with Game 2 and possibly Game 6 and 7 being played in Houston, it’s entirely possible that we’ll see more extraordinary games off the court before this series ends.
“I would say it’s one of the toughest outfields in the major leagues, the way it just bounced off the surface,” said Adam Duvall, who plays center and right on Tuesday. While the Minute Maid is littered with weird stuff like infill, brick, outfield fences, safety fences, scoreboards and roofs, Duvall said Atlanta’s outfielders spent time prior to the series working out how to deal with their various effects.
“We tried to hit all of this and try to figure out where we should be when it bounces off the wall,” he said. “This is preparation. It’s the little things that people might not see at home, but it’s part of the preparation. It’s part of what we do. We try to cover up the little things because in games like this, little things happen to big things. It was a big game.”
Each park has its own ground rules. Here are some highlights of Houston:
If a hit ball lands or passes inside the out-of-town scoreboard on the left, it is a double. If a ball hits the top of the scoreboard and bounces into the stands, the result is the same.
Staying on the left, if the ball hits the yellow line of the fence or the top of the left middle guard “at a point above the stands” the batter strikes and continues towards the sitting area. But if the ball bounces onto the court, it’s in play.
On the right, a ball is in play when it hits even the smallest part of the yellow line on the outfield wall and takes the field.
Atlanta fans woke up excited Wednesday after the Braves won a World Series game for the first time in 25 years. However, they may delay closing Peachtree Street for a victory parade for now.
After all, a Game 1 win is not a guarantee of a championship. Atlanta’s own World Series history demonstrates this.
In 1996, the Braves won Games 1 and 2 against the Yankees and lost the next four. Atlanta also took Game 1 of the 1992 World Series, but eventually lost the series to Toronto.
But in nearly two-thirds of the World Series, the Game 1 winner finally took home the title. One of the exceptions: Houston, who floundered in Game 1 in 2017 and subsequently won the franchise’s only, and by many, flawed title. In fact, Tuesday’s loss pushed the Astros streak 0-4 in their World Series openings in 2005, 2017, 2019 and this year.
“We passed him,” said Framber Valdez, the losing pitcher in Game 1 later. “It’s over tonight. We’ll come here tomorrow and try to win it and do everything we can to get our first win in the World Series.”
Houston’s manager Dusty Baker said his team was “not worried and our team is very confident”.
We have a knack for coming back after losses, after hard losses because they don’t give up, they don’t give up, they don’t give up,” he added. “That’s the secret of sports.”
Baker would have known: When he played for Los Angeles, the Dodgers lost games one and two of the 1981 World Series. They then secured four consecutive victories against the Yankees to give the franchise its first championship since 1965.
Atlanta has added left-handed shooter Tucker Davidson to its World Series roster, replacing Charlie Morton, who started Game 1 on Tuesday who broke the fibula in his right leg.
Davidson, 25, has limited major league experience and has made only five appearances for Atlanta in the past two seasons. He started four games for Atlanta in 2021, allowing 15 innings and eight runs in 20 runs. He hasn’t made any decisions this season in which he scored 18 points and reached 3.60 ERA.
He last staged a major league game on June 15, when he left a game against Boston and later landed on the injury list with a forearm problem.
Davidson will fill in for one of baseball’s premier postseason pitchers, especially in winner-takes-all games. A return player hit Morton on Tuesday’s second inning, but Atlanta didn’t say exactly when he was injured, and he fired 16 shots — and three outs — after being hit.
Still, questions around the timeline didn’t change the conclusion that Morton’s season ended.
“He wants to be on this stage,” said Brain Snitker, Atlanta’s manager. “God bless him, I hate him. I really hate him. He’s a great person, a great person, and a teammate. I really hate him because I know he’s looking forward to this run with us. So we’re going to keep going.”
Game 2’s options are eerily similar to those for watching Game 1.
Who: Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros
What: 2021 World Series, Game 2 (Atlanta, best of seven series, 1-0)
When: 20:09 eastern time
To where: Minute Maid Park, Houston
To watch: The game will air on Fox and will air on FoxSports.com, as well as streaming services such as FuboTV, Hulu Live, and YouTube TV.