ATLANTA – (AP) – The place was rocking, with pearl-clad fans sensing it was truly going to be a special night, the kind they had hopefully marked on the calendar for over a quarter of a century .
surely after Adam Duvall started one in seats dropped into right field for a grand slam in the very first inning, the Atlanta Braves would celebrate their first World Series title since 1995.
On their home ground, nothing less, the 5-year-old shopping center where they had been unbeatable for seven playoff games.
Then Halloween took a spooky turn.
All the stuff and no treats.
Now an entire city is on the alert again.
Needing a win to end the Houston Astros, the Braves squandered the 4-0 lead provided by Duvall and lost 9-5 in Game 5 on Sunday night, a listless performance that left Truist Field so calm. that you could hear a pearl fall.
The rookie starting pitcher was unable to throw a hold. The defense looked shaky. The much-vaunted bullpen was lit up. Even the fashion craze for Joc Pederson’s pearl necklace has lost its luster.
âIt’s a nine innings game,â said Duvall. âWe were excited, and that’s what you do when you hit home runs, but it’s a long game. It happened at the bottom of the first. It’s a nine-set game, and they didn’t give up. They continued to fight.
In the end, Duvall’s first inning slam seemed like a lifetime ago. The night ended mercilessly exactly four hours after it started, with Game 4 hero Jorge Soler sniffing on the final pitch.
Shocked fans made their way to Battery Mall, not in the mood to party like they had the previous two nights.
âWe haven’t been able to re-raise and keep the pressure on, and that’s a hat trick to their pitchers,â said Duvall. âThey kept us there when they needed it. “
Atlanta still leads the series 3-2 best of seven, can still wrap it up with one more win, but the teams are heading back to Texas for the final one or two games that will be needed to sort things out.
No matter how it turned out, ATL was denied the kind of hometown celebration that has only been seen once in the city’s tortured sporting history.
The Braves finished the World Series 95 against the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 at the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, winning 1-0 on the David Justice Tour and a combined hit from Tom Glavine and Mark Wohlers.
It remains the only championship that an Atlanta Big League team has won in America’s four major sports.
Another is still there for the taking, but he will have to come about 800 miles west, to a stadium where the reception will not be nearly so hospitable.
âIt would have been great. You always like to do it here, âBraves manager Brian Snitker said. “But I’ll take him anywhere.” I don’t care where we are. If we win the World Series, it doesn’t matter where they are. I would have loved to do it in front of our fans. Hope we can do that in the next few days. “
Those next 48-72 hours should be pretty grueling for the city’s snake-loving fans, who are marked by all the close but champagne-free moments that kept the title count at 1.
– The Braves collapsed in 1996 when a second straight championship seemed a given after winning the first two World Series games at Yankee Stadium. Jim Leyritz still has nightmares in these areas.
–The NFL Falcons took a 28-3 Super Bowl lead and lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots in overtime.
– The Braves, once again, lost a 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Championship Series last year.
Will Sunday night’s defeat join this room of sorrow? Or will it be a simple bump in the road to a title that is still only 27 outs?
âThey are not going to give up. They’re not going to turn around, âDuvall said of the Astros. âWe play for everything. We’re playing for everything right now. We play for the dreams we had as a child.
“It won’t be easy,” he added. âThis time of year, all through the playoffs, it’s not going to be easy. You have guys who are willing to go through walls to win.
Game 6 takes place Tuesday night in Houston.
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