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Braves bullpen another long winning night in World Series G1

·3 min read

HOUSTON (AP) — Atlanta Braves reliever A.J. Minter emphatically pumped his fist coming off the mound after an inning-ending strikeout in Game 1 of the World Series.

It was only the third inning in what would be another long postseason game for the Braves bullpen — and another win for those relievers as Atlanta opened its first World Series since 1999 with a 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros.

Minter certainly didn't expect to be entering that early, especially with starter Charlie Morton on the mound with a 5-0 lead. But Morton hunched over and grabbed at his lower right leg after Jose Altuve took a called third strike to start the third inning.

After Morton departed with a broken fibula, having pitched an entire inning since initially getting struck by a comebacker, the Braves relievers came through again like they have so much this postseason. Left-hander Minter, who got the victory, was the first of four relievers who combined to limit the Astros to two runs while striking out eight with one walk over 6 2/3 innings.

Relievers have recorded six of Atlanta's eight wins in this October run, even though the Braves were expected to be among the more traditional teams this fall in terms of leaning on their starters. They have also pitched more innings than the starters (49 2/3 to 46 1/3), a significant reversal from the regular season when the bullpen accounted for only about 40% of the innings pitched.

Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and lefty closer Will Smith followed after Minter. It was the same quartet of relievers — and in the same order — that handled the final five innings in a pennant-clinching win over the Dodgers on Saturday night.

And it was also Minter, Jackson, Matzek and Smith in order to close out the NL Division Series in Game 4 against Milwaukee.

A Texas native who went to Texas A&M about 100 miles from Minute Maid Park, Minter threw a career-high 43 pitches with 30 strikes over 2 2/3 innings. He allowed a double to Michael Brantley right after entering the game, but then got Alex Bregman on a groundout before the cutter that got Yordan Alvarez swinging at a pitch out of the zone for the final out — prompting the reliever's high-energy response bouncing off the mound.

Minter had averaged only 14.4 pitches in his 61 regular-season appearances, with a high of 32. His high this postseason had been 26 pitches while striking out four in two perfect innings when the Braves clinched the NL Championship Series with a win over Los Angeles.

The Astros' run in the fourth came after consecutive hits and an error by shortstop Dansby Swanson, who put his hand over the glove before fielding the ball that then ricocheted into left field.


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Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press

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