Marwin Gonzalez’s Game 5 hit was far softer than his drive in the World Series four years ago, but it had just as much impact. After missing the first two rounds of the postseason, he played a huge role in keeping the Houston Astros’ championship quest alive.
Gonzalez broke a fifth-inning tie with a two-run pinch-hit single into short left field, leading the comeback from a four-run deficit in a 9-5 win over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday night.
The Astros had lost the 2017 opener and trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 in Game 2 when Gonzalez homered on an 0-2 pitch from All-Star closer Kenley Jansen leading off the ninth. Houston won in 11 innings and went on to win that World Series in seven games for their first title.
Houston trailed on Sunday night after Adam Duvall’s first-inning grand slam and were down 5-4 in the fifth when AJ Minter forced the tying run with a bases-loaded walk to Martin Maldonado.
Signed by the Astros on 27 August after being cut by Boston, Gonzalez spent three games in the minors before he was brought up. He hit .176 in 14 games with eight RBIs over the season’s last month and became a late addition to the World Series roster last week in place of the injured Jake Meyers.
“He has World Series experience, so you know he’s not going to be like in awe of the game or the situation,” manager Dusty Baker said before the opener.
Gonzalez had not played since the final game of the regular season on 3 October before striking out in a pinch-hit appearance against Ian Anderson in Game 3 and flying out off Kyle Wright in another pinch-hit at-bat in Game 4.
After a visit to the mound by pitching coach Rick Kranitz, Gonzalez swung at a first-pitch cutter. The ball landed just 235 feet from plate, a clear hit off the bat, enabling Yuli Gurriel to score from third and Alex Bregman from second. The ball landed so softly that Eddie Rosario barehanded it after the second hop and threw to second. Minter shook his head.
Gonzalez pounded his chest after rounding first, and the Astros were on their way for another shot at redemption. With Houston down 3-2, the best-of-seven series resumes at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.