Astros’ Baker appreciates bench; Bregman to stay in 7-spot

Nov 1, 2021, 3:51 AM | Updated: 4:10 pm

Houston Astros' Marwin Gonzalez hits a 2-RBI double during the fifth inning in Game 5 of baseball's...

Houston Astros' Marwin Gonzalez hits a 2-RBI double during the fifth inning in Game 5 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

              ADDS NAME OF BRAVES TRAINER AT CENTER AND BRAVES MANAGER AT LEFT- Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton, right, is helped off the field by Braves head athletic trainer George Poulis, center, during the third inning of Game 1 in baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Houston. At left is Braves manager Brian Snitker. AP Photo/Eric Gay)
              Houston Astros' Alex Bregman celebrates in the dugout after scoring on the double by Marwin Gonzalez during the fifth inning in Game 5 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
              Houston Astros' Marwin Gonzalez hits a 2-RBI double during the fifth inning in Game 5 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
              Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr. watches batting practice before Game 5 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston manager Dusty Baker appreciates his stars, but this time of year — perhaps more than ever — he’s also a big fan of his role players.

He likened his bench players to a third-down running back in football or the sixth man in basketball.

“In every sport, these guys make the difference because you wear your stars out and they can’t do it all the time,” Baker said. “You have to have other guys on your team that you call upon, especially in a specialty situation.”

That quality was on full display in Game 5 when the Astros staved off elimination with a huge assist from pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez. The utility infielder spent 2012-18 with the Astros, helping them make the turnaround from baseball’s worst team to World Series champs.

He spent two seasons with the Twins before joining the Boston Red Sox this season. But he was released in August, and the Astros brought him back.

On Sunday night, Gonzalez blooped a two-out, two-run single in the fifth to give the Astros a 7-5 lead. It was the first hit of the series for Gonzalez, who also pinch-hit in Games 3 and 4.

“Your extra guys (are) the guys that put you over the top,” Baker said.


Baker said he’d likely have third baseman Alex Bregman hit seventh again in Game 6 after moving him down to that spot for Game 5.

Baker dropped Bregman from third to seventh for Game 5 after he went 1 for 14 in the first four games of the series. The shakeup made a difference, with Bregman driving in Houston’s first run Sunday night with a double in the second inning. The Astros were down 4-0 after a grand slam by Adam Duvall when Bregman got them on the board.

“He got the biggest hit of the night to me, up to that point, at least, to get us back in the game,” Baker.

Baker thought Bregman looked better in Game 5, but knows he has more work to do to keep it going Tuesday after starting the series in such a slump.

“You just don’t come out of something overnight generally,” Baker said. “It didn’t take you a day to get in this mess, and it’s not going to take you a day to get out.”

Baker also said Monday that he doesn’t expect Jason Castro to return in this series after the backup catcher was dropped from the roster before Game 4 because of Major League Baseball’s COVID-19 protocols.

“I tried to call him today, and he didn’t answer his phone,” Baker said. “I tried to call him this morning actually, and I left him a message. So no, probably not.”


World Series visiting teams usually head home on charter flights that take off about 90-120 minutes after the final out, while the home team heading on the road travels on the day off. But this year, both World Series teams travelled on the rest day.

“I think, number one, there’s a lot of kids traveling. The games are going until midnight or beyond, and they’re going to get home, it’s not going to be good sleep,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Monday. “We’re just more in tune with letting the guys get a good night’s sleep. We’re not going to do anything today anyway, most of them. This time of the Series, you’re probably not going to work out.”

Overnight travel can turn into a lengthy bus trip while teams can plan day-time travel at optimum hours.

“I think it’s better than getting in at 5 or 6 in the morning and hitting rush-hour traffic,” Snitker said.

The Astros didn’t get back to Houston until late Monday afternoon, when manager Dusty Baker addressed reporters on a Zoom call before going home.

“We didn’t come back last night. That would have been back too late,” Baker said. “Let the guys get semi rest. We came back, actually, right now. So I think that was a good choice.”


There have already been two games in this World Series that went at least four hours — Game 1, which went six minutes over that, and Game 5, which was exactly four hours. The average game time has been 3 hours, 41 minutes.

Both the Astros and Braves have used at least five pitchers in each game, but no more than six.

Asked if a pitch clock was needed to speed things up, Snitker — who is familiar with those from managing in Triple-A — said that’s not really the issue in these long postseason games.

“I know these games are long because the time in between innings is really long and stuff like that that’s added to it,” Snitker said. “I like the flow when I experienced the pitch clock, but I don’t know that’s going to solve — I mean, that’s not the only thing that’s going to solve the problem.”


This will be the 69th time in the 117 World Series that a Game 6 will be played, and the third year in a row for there to be one. The last time the Fall Classic went at least six games three years in a row was 2001-03.

In the previous 68 times there has been a Game 6, the team with a chance to clinch in that game did so only 26 times (38.2%), including the Los Angels Dodgers over Tampa Bay last year. But teams with a 3-2 lead have gone on to championships 45 times overall (66.2%).

Atlanta has had a 3-2 Series lead four other times, and the Braves won Game 6 only once in those situations: against Cleveland in 1995 for their last championship. They overcame a Game 6 loss to win Game 7 against the New York Yankees in 1957, but lost seven-game series to the Yankees in 1958 and Minnesota in 1991 after falling in Game 6.


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

7 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

7 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

7 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

7 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

7 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

7 months ago

Astros’ Baker appreciates bench; Bregman to stay in 7-spot