Jose Altuve admits equalling Bernie Williams for career postseason home runs means a lot but says it only matters as long as the Houston Astros are winning.

Altuve brought up his 22nd career postseason home run in the seventh inning to cap the Astros' 7-2 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 to level the World Series on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old drew level with Williams in equal second on the overall majors list for postseason homers, behind only Manny Ramirez on 29.

“To hit 22 homers in the playoffs and tie [Williams] – always every time that my name is mentioned, before it was Derek Jeter, now it's Bernie Williams – it means a lot to me," Altuve told reporters.

"It makes me keep going out there, hitting homers to help my team, to keep accomplishing things like this. As long as we win, everything's good.”

Altuve scored the opening run of Game 2, with Alex Bregman driving him home in the first inning, finishing the game with two hits, two runs and one RBI. He had gone zero-for-five in Game 1.

The second baseman is hitting at .200 with four home runs, eight RBIs and 10 hits this postseason but team success is the main objective.

"For me, stats in the playoffs don’t matter, as long as you're winning," Altuve said.

"You could be zero-for-20 but if you get the big hit, that's what playoffs are about. I went zero-for-five last night but I didn’t care, I show up, I tried to get good pitches to hit.

"I'm glad I helped my team win tonight."

Five right-handed Astros hitters had six hits, five RBIs and one home run between them on Wednesday.

Houston have scored five or more runs in 10 games this postseason, which is tied for the second most in a single postseason, trailing only the 2015 Kansas City Royals with 11.

The Houston Astros have levelled the World Series after a four-run second inning and another Jose Altuve postseason home run to win 7-2 over the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 on Wednesday.

The Braves had won Game 1 at Houston's Minute Maid Park 6-2 on Tuesday, but the Astros showed intent opening up a 5-1 lead after two innings.

Altuve's seventh-inning solo blast extended the lead to 7-2, taking him to 22 postseason homers, equalling Bernie Williams for second in majors history.

The Astros second baseman, who has four home runs this postseason, trails only Manny Ramirez for postseason homers with 29.

Astros starting pitcher Jose Urquidy played a strong role with seven strikeouts with two runs across five innings, outpitching Braves starter Max Fried who allowed seven hits and five earned runs.

Urquidy becomes the fourth Astros pitcher to have seven or more strikeouts and no walks in a World Series. Eddie Rosario, who came into the game with 20 hits this postseason, had an off-night with no hits.

Altuve scored the opening run from Alex Bregman's first-inning sacrifice fly, before Travis d'Arnaud's second-inning home run tied the game up.

Houston blew the game open at the bottom of the second inning, with Jose Siri's RBI single followed by Martin Maldonado's single allowing Yuli Gurriel and Siri to get home, the latter after an Eddie Rosario fielding error. Michael Brantley's base hit drove in Maldonado too.

The Astros had five hits in the second inning, which matched their most ever in an inning in a World Series game, having had five hits in the second inning in Game 3 in 2017.

Freddie Freeman's single got d'Arnaud in for his second run in the fifth inning, before Ozzie Albies mistake on second base allowed Yordan Alvarez to score in the sixth inning, before Altuve's homered to left field in the seventh inning.

 

Astros at Braves

Both sides will travel on Thursday as the series moves to Atlanta for Game 3 on Friday.

The Atlanta Braves have replaced injured pitcher Charlie Morton with left-hander Tucker Davidson on their World Series roster.

Morton was forced out of the 6-2 win over the Houston Astros in Game 1 on Tuesday after he was struck in the lower right leg by Yuli Gurriel's comebacker in the second inning.

The 37-year-old right-hander initially stayed in the game, but was withdrawn in the third inning, with X-rays later revealing a series-ending broken right fibula.

Davidson had a 3.60 ERA with 18 strikeouts in four big league starts this season, occurring back in May and June.

The 25-year-old has not appeared in postseason games and missed much of the regular season with left forearm inflammation.

Morton had a 3.34 ERA, with 216 strikeouts with a 14-6 record across the 2021 MLB season.

Atlanta Braves star Jorge Soler conceded Charlie Morton's injury had taken the shine off his team's 6-2 triumph over the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series.

Morton took a hard grounder off the leg in the second inning but remained in the game to finish out the frame, then struck out the first batter of the third before leaving when the pain became too intense.

X-rays revealed the 37-year-old had suffered a broken right fibula, ruling him out of the remainder of the series.

Soler, who hit the third pitch of the game for a home run, said of Morton's setback: "It was extremely challenging for us.

"We saw him getting treatment and getting worked on. He went back out there to pitch on that broken leg.

"It was really challenging and emotional for us to have to see him in the game being hurt, our World Series opener, starter."

In the 117th edition of the World Series, Soler became the first player to lead off the top of the first inning of Game 1 with a homer – a welcome development for Atlanta as teams that score first in the 2021 postseason are now 25-7. 

"The energy was amazing and electric, especially after we took a 1-0 lead after that home run," said Soler.

"I feel extremely grateful to be here and be a member of this organisation. I feel like Atlanta opened its arms for me. They traded for me, and they gave me opportunity to play every day.

"So as far as I'm concerned, I'm extremely grateful to the organisation, to the fans who have definitely supported us, and like I said, I'm very happy to be here."

Astros starter Framber Valdez had been dominant early in games, allowing only one run in the first two innings over his previous six games combined, but he would retire only six of the 15 men he faced Tuesday before departing down 5-0 with no outs in the third inning. 

Beyond Soler's leadoff blast, the other big offensive blow for the Braves was a two-run laser over the left-field fence by Adam Duvall in the third that drove Valdez from the game.  

Game 2 is on Wednesday in Houston with Max Fried taking the mound for the Braves against the Astros' Jose Urquidy. 

The Atlanta Braves had the best possible start and held on from there to take Game 1 of the World Series from the Houston Astros 6-2 on Tuesday. 

Jorge Soler hit the third pitch of the game for a home run and the Braves scored in each of the first three innings to build what proved to be an insurmountable lead out of the gate at Minute Maid Park. 

In the 117th edition of the World Series, Soler became the first player to lead off the top of the first inning of Game 1 with a homer – a welcome development for Atlanta as teams that score first in the 2021 postseason are now 25-7. 

Astros starter Framber Valdez had been dominant early in games, allowing only one run in the first two innings over his previous six games combined, but he would retire only six of the 15 men he faced Tuesday before departing down 5-0 with no outs in the third inning. 

Beyond Soler's leadoff blast, the other big offensive blow for the Braves was a two-run laser over the left-field fence by Adam Duvall in the third that drove Valdez from the game. 

His opposite number, Charlie Morton, also failed to make it out of the third, but his departure came through injury rather than ineffectiveness. 

Morton took a hard grounder off the leg in the second inning but remained in the game to finish out the frame, then struck out the first batter of the third before leaving when the pain became too intense. X-rays would reveal the 37-year-old had suffered a broken right fibula. 

Losing Morton for the remainder of the series will be a blow to Atlanta, but they cannot complain about the all-around effort that allowed them to break a string of eight consecutive World Series game losses dating to their last Fall Classic appearances in 1999 and 1996. 

Every batter in the Braves' starting lineup had at least one hit by the sixth inning and four relievers managed to keep Houston under control after Morton's injury. 

Atlanta also scratched out a late run thanks to some aggressive baserunning by Dansby Swanson in the eighth and got out of the bottom of that inning when NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario threw out Yuli Gurriel at second base as he tried to stretch a drive off the outfield wall into a double. 

Game 2 is Wednesday in Houston with Max Fried taking the mound for the Braves against the Astros' Jose Urquidy. 

Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Morton suffered a broken leg in the second inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros – but did not leave the game until the following inning. 

The Braves said X-rays showed Morton fractured his right fibula and he will miss the rest of the World Series. 

Yuli Gurriel led off the bottom of the second inning for the Astros with a hard one-hopper up the middle that deflected off Morton's lower right leg to Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman for an out. 

Morton struck out the next batter, Chas McCormick, then got Martin Maldonado to line out to end the inning. 

Morton came back out for the third inning, but grimaced as he struck out Houston leadoff man Jose Altuve and bent over to rub his lower right leg before leaving the game. 

The 37-year-old right-hander threw 16 pitches after breaking his push leg, two of them 96 mph fastballs. 

Morton, who helped lead the Astros to a World Series title in 2017, was the Braves' most reliable starter this season, going 14-6 with a 3.34 ERA as he led MLB with 33 regular-season starts. 

Entering the World Series, Morton had allowed six earned runs across three postseason starts this year. 

 

The Houston Astros brushed off any suggestions that they are using 2017's sign-stealing scandal as motivation ahead of their World Series against the Atlanta Braves.

Houston will host the Braves in Game 1 on Tuesday, with the Astros featuring in the third World Series in five seasons.

Houston's 2017 World Series title remains shrouded in controversy the Astros were found to have stolen signs of opposition teams on the way to winning the championship, as well as for part of 2018.

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were subsequently fired by the team after they were initially suspended.

The Astros have since regularly been greeted with jeers and boos in road games but manager Dusty Baker, who was appointed in 2020, insisted they were not out to prove people wrong.

"I don't think that's their main source of motivation," Baker told reporters on Monday. "I think people are trying to make it as their main source of motivation. That doesn't motivate you nearly as much as thriving to win and thriving for excellence.

"I think this team is way past that because they know they can play. You can only be driven by 'I'll show you,' or you can only be driven by negative motivation so far."

Houston infielders Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are both holdovers from the 2017 roster but reiterated Baker's stance.

"I don't think the outside noise motivates us at all," said Correa, who has hit .297 with five RBIs and 11 hits this postseason.

"The guys inside [the clubhouse] - we motivate ourselves to just be better every single day, and you see the results on the field.

"I don't think we're playing here in the World Series because we're motivated to prove to people that we're a really good team."

Altuve, who hit .278 with 31 home runs and 83 RBIs across the regular season, said he had not considered the sign-stealing scandal in the lead-up to the World Series.

"I haven't thought about that, but I think we have the same mindset we always have, just going out there and try to win," Altuve said.

"This is a pretty special team. Everybody just talks about winning. We all want to win. There's not a single guy who talks about something else."

Correa and Altuve were both crucial in offense for the Astros in 2017, recording 14 RBIs in the postseason, with both hitting two home runs in the World Series.

The St Louis Cardinals named Oliver Marmol as their new manager to replace the departed Mike Shildt, making the 35-year-old the youngest skipper in MLB.

St Louis dismissed Shildt earlier this month, despite the Cardinals' franchise-record 17-game streak which saw them storm into the MLB postseason.

Marmol served as St Louis' bench coach under Shildt last season, has been part of the team's staff since 2017 and is a former Cardinals draftee and minor leaguer.

"Oli is a career member of the Cardinals organisation, and someone who has built excellent working relationships with our players, coaches and staff members at all levels," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement on Monday.

"We believe that he possesses strong managerial skills that will allow for the continued success of our team."

The Cardinals parted ways with Shildt due to "philosophical differences", despite a win percentage of 55.9 across three seasons and a 92-win 2021 campaign.

Marmol, who is younger than active Cardinals Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, becomes the youngest manager since Eric Wedge, when he took charge of the Cleveland Indians in 2003.

The Houston Astros will be without ace Lance McCullers Jr. throughout the World Series due to a forearm strain.

McCullers – a World Series champion in 2017 – declared himself unavailable for the best-of-seven MLB showpiece on Monday, with the Astros-Atlanta Braves opener scheduled for Tuesday.

The starting pitcher left Game 4 of the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Chicago White Sox due to forearm tightness and sat out the entire American League Championship Series (ALCS) clash with the Boston Red Sox.

"We're hoping that in a couple weeks, when I would pick up my normal offseason workout routine and things of that nature, that I won't have many restrictions," McCullers said as he expects to be ready for Spring Training in 2022.

"And then we can just flow into pitching in January. [Dr. Neal] ElAttrache has seen the MRI, things of that nature. He told us that he doesn't believe anything is wrong with the UCL, anything like that. Just a pretty solid forearm strain that I had there in Chicago.

"We knew that it was less than a one percent chance that I would have a role in this series, but there was no point to write me off until we had to."

An All-Star during Houston's World Series run in 2017, McCullers enjoyed the best season of his career as the 28-year-old finished with a 3.16 ERA – eclipsing his 3.22 mark in 2015.

McCullers achieved a career-high 185 strikeouts with a 13-5 win-loss record in 2021.

In his first start against the White Sox in the playoffs, McCullers kept the Chicago franchise scoreless through 6.2 innings with four strikeouts.

McCullers pitched 4.0 innings of one-run ball against the White Sox in Game 4, while striking out five batters.  

"The worst thing is I just feel like I can't be there for the team in the way they need me the most, which is on the field," McCullers said.

"…When you have a team like that, and you've been to the postseason so many times, and the World Series is your goal, Spring Training and the season is almost just something you have to do because this is where you want to be, this is where you hope to be.

"For me to not be able to pitch when I feel like these are the moments that I dream of, the moments I’m kind of built for, is probably the worst part."

As the National League Championship Series unfolded, it became clear to the Los Angeles Dodgers that they had to find a way to stop Eddie Rosario. 

Maybe that would have happened if the series had gone seven games, but Rosario made sure it did not, hitting his third home run of the NLCS to give the Atlanta Braves a 4-2 win Saturday and secure MVP honours. 

As the Braves advance to their first World Series since 1999, they can thank a man who did not make his first start for Atlanta until August 29 but has become indispensable. 

Rosario went 14 for 25 in the series for a staggering .560 batting average, driving in nine runs and scoring six himself. 

"We just couldn't figure him out," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "He beat us the other way. He beat us to the pull side. He got hits off lefties, off righties. We tried to spin him. We went hard.

"We just didn't have an answer for him and when you've got that big guy [Freddie Freeman] looming behind him it's just kind of tough to pitch around him, who was clearly hot. But, yeah, we just didn't have an answer for him."

Rosario tied an MLB record for the most hits in a postseason series, but he could lay claim to owning it outright.

The four men he shares the mark with – Marco Scutaro (2012 NLCS), Kevin Youkilis (2007 ALCS), Albert Pujols (2004 NLCS) and Hideki Matsui (2004 ALCS) – all needed seven games to reach 14 hits. 

"It's just amazing how locked-in he is," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Rosario. "It's been something else."

Atlanta acquired Rosario from the Cleveland Indians on July 30, just under three weeks after losing star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. for the season with a knee injury, but they knew they would have to wait for the newcomer to join the lineup. 

Rosario had been out since July 5 with an abdominal strain and would not become a regular fixture in the Braves lineup until mid-September, but no one is taking him out now. 

Though the 30-year-old has postseason experience from his time with the Minnesota Twins, he has never experienced anything like the last week or so. 

"This is obviously my greatest accomplishment of my career so far, this [MVP] trophy and this award, so it's something to definitely be proud of," Rosario said. 

"It's truly a great moment, not just in my career, but in my life as well, but I want more. I want to win the World Series."

The Atlanta Braves are headed to the World Series for the first time since 1999 after their hottest hitter led them past the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. 

Eddie Rosario's two-out, three-run homer off Walker Buehler in the fourth inning proved the difference for Atlanta, who ended the Dodgers' hopes of second successive title after Los Angeles won 106 games to Atlanta's 88 during the regular season. 

It was sweet revenge for the Braves after they blew a 3-1 series lead against the Dodgers in last year's NLCS. Los Angeles had won seven straight postseason elimination games before Saturday, four of them against the Braves. 

Austin Riley drove in the other Atlanta run with a first-inning double that scored Ozzie Albies and the Braves left the rest to their pitching staff. 

Starter Ian Anderson worked four strong innings but Atlanta manager Brian Snitker pinch-hit for him as part of the sequence that led to Rosario's game-changing homer. 

Relievers AJ Minter and Tyler Matzek did their part with two perfect innings each, striking out eight total batters around another rough outing from Luke Jackson, who allowed an A.J. Pollock RBI single in the seventh. 

Will Smith came on to close it out in the ninth before a roaring sellout crowd of 43,060 at Truist Park, where the Braves have won 10 of their last 11 games, and got Pollock to ground out to shortstop Dansby Swanson for the final out. 

Atlanta will face the American League champion Houston Astros for the title, with Game 1 set for Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. 

The Braves were swept by the New York Yankees in their last World Series appearance 22 years ago, a disappointment that came four years after the franchise won its only title in 1995. 

Dusty Baker said "there was never a doubt" in the Houston Astros' minds that they would top the Boston Red Sox and reach the World Series.

The Astros will feature in the MLB showpiece for the third time in five years after Friday's 5-0 shutout secured a 4-2 victory in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Kyle Tucker's three-run homer settled the contest in the eighth inning as the 2017 World Series champions prepare to face either the Atlanta Braves or Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Pitching, defense and timely hitting," veteran manager Baker said of how the Astros came back to claim the series against the Red Sox.

"And plus, these guys always believed that we were going to win. I mean, there was never a doubt in their minds."

Baker is heading back to the World Series for the first time in 19 years – the only manager to go longer between consecutive World Series appearances was Bucky Harris (1925 with the Senators then 1947 with the Yankees).

Baker will be aged 72 years and 133 days old for Game 1 of the World Series, the second oldest manager to reach the Fall Classic behind only Jack McKeon (73 years and 329 days in 2003).

Yordan Alvarez was crowned ALCS MVP after becoming the fifth Astros player with a four-hit game in a potential postseason clincher after driving in the opening run before scoring to double the lead in the sixth inning of the Game 6 clash.

"It means everything," Alvarez told reporters. "I think there are a lot of things that I could say that's behind the trophy, but all I can say is it just means everything."

Luis Garcia starred on the mound for the Astros, allowing just one hit and striking out seven batters across 5.2 innings.

"I felt great," said Garcia, who exited his Game 2 start with a right knee strain. "The adjustment that I made with my leg, I think was the big thing. That helped me a lot, even to throw harder."

Yordan Alvarez was the hero as the Houston Astros topped the Boston Red Sox 5-0 to advance to the MLB World Series.

Alvarez drove in the opening run before scoring to double the lead in the sixth inning to fuel the Astros in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) on Friday.

The Astros sealed the ALCS pennant 4-2 and their first World Series berth since 2019 – third in five years – thanks to Kyler Tucker's three-run homer in the eighth inning.

Houston will face either the Atlanta Braves or defending champions the Los Angeles Dodgers for their second MLB crown and first since 2017.

ALCS MVP Alvarez – the fifth Astros player with a four-hit game in a potential postseason clincher – set the tone in Houston, where he doubled to deep centre, allowing Alex Bregman to score in the first inning.

The tense battle continued before Tucker's grounded into double play at first as Alvarez scored to make it 2-0.

With the Red Sox trying to avoid elimination, the Astros put the result beyond doubt behind Tucker's 357-foot shot in the bottom of the eighth, with Alvarez and Carlos Correa also scoring.

Alvarez (.522) ended the series with the highest batting average in the ALCS, eclipsing Kevin Youkilis (.500 in 2007).

Luis Garcia starred on the mound, allowing just one hit in 5.2 innings while striking out seven batters.

Houston's Dusty Baker is heading back to the World Series for the first time in 19 years – the only manager to go longer between consecutive World Series appearances was Bucky Harris (1925 with the Senators then 1947 with the Yankees).

Baker will be aged 72 years and 133 days old for Game 1 of the World Series, the second oldest manager to reach the Fall Classic behind only Jack McKeon (73 years and 329 days in 2003).

 

Dodgers at Braves

The Braves can secure a date with the Astros when they host the Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) on Saturday. Atlanta lead 3-2.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts labelled Chris Taylor "remarkable" and in an "elite class" after his three home-run display in their National League Championship Series (NLCS) Game 5 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Taylor joined Enrique Hernandez as the only Dodgers player ever to have a three-homer postseason game as they won 11-2 over the Braves to avoid elimination.

The victory sees the World Series champions pull the NLCS back to 3-2 but Taylor's hitting was all the talk as he became only the fifth player with a three-or-more homer and four-or-more hit postseason game.

"He's in an elite class of very few. When you're talking about Gil Hodges and Duke Snider who didn’t do it, it's pretty remarkable," Roberts said during a news conference after the win.

"He's one of the best I've seen at just being in the moment. When his career is over, he can look back and appreciate that.

"For me being a Chris Taylor fan and seeing he's a part of history now, it's pretty remarkable. He just does things the right way."

Taylor received a curtain call from the fans at Dodgers Stadium, as they turned around an early 2-0 deficit, piling on 11 unanswered runs.

A.J. Pollock also hit two home runs but was overshadowed by Taylor who finished the game with four hits from five at-bats and six RBIs.

"That was my first one [curtain call]," Taylor said. "Anytime you do something cool, when you do it at Dodgers Stadium it makes it that much sweeter.

"This is a special place. These fans are awesome. For that to happen for the first time on this stage in front of this crowd was a special moment.

"Mechanically I'm in a good place. Once you get a couple of hits and the confidence is there, that's when everything comes together."

The Dodgers become the third team in postseason history to have two players with a multi-home run game in the same postseason encounter. They also set a new franchise record for hits in a postseason game with 17, tying their postseason home-run record of five.

In bad news for the Dodgers, Roberts revealed starting pitcher Joe Kelly would likely not return this season after sustaining a biceps injury in the first inning.

"It's a bicep strain and we're going to continue to evaluate but the way it reads right now, that'll be it for the rest of the season for him," Roberts said.

Chris Taylor made history by homering three times to keep the Los Angeles Dodgers alive in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) with an 11-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

Facing elimination at 3-1 down in the NLCS, the World Series champions trailed 2-0 early before 11 unanswered runs headlined by Taylor's trio of home runs, going four-from-five for the game with six RBIs.

Taylor joined Enrique Hernandez as the only Dodgers player to ever have a three-homer postseason game. The 31-year-old moves to an equal-postseason high 12 RBIs, along with four home runs and 12 hits. All four of Taylor's home runs have come in games when the Dodgers were facing elimination.

A.J. Pollock also finished the game with two home runs, including an eighth-inning three-run blast, going three-from-five.

The Dodgers become the third team in postseason history to have two players with a multi-home run game in the same postseason game. They also set a new franchise record for hits in a postseason game with 17, tying their postseason home-run record of five.

The Braves threatened to run away with the series after Freddie Freeman's first-inning two-run blast with Dodgers starting pitcher Joe Kelly withdrawn soon after.

But LA responded with home runs from Pollock and Taylor in the third inning from Max Fried to claim the lead.

Taylor extended the Dodgers lead with a two-run home run in the sixth inning, adding a third homer in the seventh inning to open up a 7-2 lead.

Pollock put the icing on the cake in the eighth inning, before Kenley Jansen closed it out.

The Dodgers had trailed the Braves 3-1 in last season's NLCS, before triumphing in the next three games and ultimately winning the World Series.

 

Red Sox at Astros

The Houston Astros can secure their spot in the World Series for the third time in five years when they host the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series leading 3-2.

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