Swanson breaks out with tying HR to spark Braves’ big inning
ATLANTA (AP) — Dansby Swanson picked a good time to drive in his first run of the World Series.
With Atlanta trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning in Saturday night’s Game 4, Swanson lined a 95 mph fastball from Cristian Javier over the right field wall for his first homer of the postseason, tying the game.
Pinch-hitter Jorge Soler followed with a go-ahead homer, also against Javier. It was the first time the Braves have hit back-to-back World Series homers.
Thanks to the sudden power display, the Braves won 3-2 and lead the World Series, three games to one. The Braves can clinch their first World Series championship since 1995 in Game 5 on Sunday night.
Before his homer, Swanson had been 2 for 11 in the World Series. He lined out and struck out in his first two at-bats on Saturday night.
“It’s like I’ve been waiting for Dansby to do a Dansby-esque type thing,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “The kid likes the moment, I know that. He has for as long as he’s been here.”
Swanson, a right-handed hitter, hit the opposite-field homer over the brick wall in right field. He watched the flight of the ball as he ran to first base and then triumphantly raised his right arm after rounding the bag.
Swanson said it was time for him to have a more competitive at-bat.
“I feel like something that in yesterday’s game that I struggled with was kind of the compete factor,” Swanson said. “I felt like I wasn’t competing as much as I needed to. So at that moment, I felt like I needed to compete to do something to help this team win.”
Even Soler, who had the decisive homer, said Swanson’s shot was “just a complete game-changer.”
Swanson’s big hit was an important one for a Braves offense that appeared to be stuck on a two-run hole. The Braves suffered a 7-2 loss in Game 2 before riding a strong start from Ian Anderson for a 2-0 win in Friday night’s Game 3.
Soler’s drive sailed just over the reach of Astros left fielder Yordan Valdez, who crashed into the wall while trying to make the catch.
Javier had not allowed a run in four postseason games before the back-to-back blasts.
“Javier’s been outstanding,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker. “He found too much of the plate on a two-strike count to Swanson, and then he hung a breaking ball on the inside to Soler. That was the difference in the ballgame.”
It was the second time in the postseason the Braves hit back-to-back home runs. Adam Duvall and Eddie Rosario hit homers in consecutive at-bats in the second inning of Atlanta’s 9-2 win at Los Angeles in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.
Swanson and the Braves will try to build off the power resurgence in Sunday night’s Game 5 against Framber Valdez, the Astros’ Game 1 starter.
Entering the game, Swanson had a .273 career batting average in 30 postseason games. He hit three homers in last year’s postseason, including two against Miami in the NL Division Series and one against the Dodgers in the NLCS.
“I have family here at the game,” Swanson said. “I have my best friends that I grew up with here at the game. It’s a special moment, and it’s really hard to put into words.”
Swanson has painful memories of the Braves blowing a 3-1 series lead in last year’s NL Championship loss to the Dodgers.
“We know that nothing’s done, nothing’s over,” he said. “We’ve obviously learned that lesson before. We just got to go out and compete, and I feel like that’s the biggest motto for this team. ”
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