World Series score: Braves take Game 1 over Astros as Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall homer

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The Atlanta Braves defeated the Houston Astros, 6-2, in Game 1 of the 2021 World Series on Tuesday night. The Braves lead the best-of-seven series by a 1-0 margin. The Braves took an early lead, with Jorge Soler becoming the first player to ever hit a home run in the first plate appearance of a World Series. Atlanta didn't stop, either, building an early 5-0 lead thanks in part to a two-run home run by Adam Duvall. The Astros were later able to get on the board, but it was too little and too late to matter.

The Braves did suffer a notable loss during Tuesday's game, as starter Charlie Morton was announced to be out for the remainder of the World Series after a comebacker fractured his fibula. Atlanta's bullpen, nevertheless, was able to make the lead stand.

Historically, MLB teams who take a 1-0 lead in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the set on 64 percent of occasions. That percentage jumps to 84 percent when the team takes a 2-0 lead, making Wednesday's game a pivotal one for both parties. The Braves are expected to start Max Fried while the Astros counter with José Urquidy.

Now for some takeaways from Game 1. 

Valdez didn't have it

Framber Valdez, with his 2.53 ERA in two ALCS starts, was central to the Astros' win over the Red Sox in the last round. As the Game 1 starter against Atlanta, Valdez was expected once again to help the Houston cause. Instead, Valdez on Tuesday night authored one of the worst starts of his career. In just two innings of work, Valdez allowed five runs on eight hits. He gave up two home runs (more on one of those in a moment), and he just missed giving up another one to Dansby Swanson, who in the second drove one 413 feet but to the deepest part of the ballpark. 

All of that added up to some unfortunate history for Valdez: 

In terms of Game Score, which is a Bill James metric that measures the effectiveness of a starting pitcher in a given start, Valdez in Game 1 reached depths he's almost never seen before. For some context, a Game Score of 50 represents an average start, while a figure of, say, 90, marks a true gem of gems. Valdez in Game 1 had a Game Score of 21. Just once in his career -- back on June 26, 2019 -- has he put up a worse Game Score. Suffice it to say, it was an inconvenient time for Valdez to have one of his worst starts ever. 

Soler made history early 

In the first plate appearance of the 2021 World Series -- on the first swing of the 2021 World Series -- Braves DH Jorge Soler did this: 

That's 382 feet of distance and 105 mph off the bat, all at the expense of a Valdez sinker. That's also history: What you saw above is the first time the first batter of a World Series has homered. This is the 117th World Series, by the way. So, yes, this never happened before. 

As for Soler, he's long had big-time power -- he hit 48 home runs in 2019, you'll recall -- and that's why the Braves acquired him leading up to the July 30 trade deadline. The Braves lost him during the NLDS to the COVID list, and Tuesday night marked his first start since returning. By powering up against an extreme ground ball pitcher like Valdez, Soler announced his presence right away and gave the Braves an early lead. 

The win was a costly one for the Braves

Being up 1-0 is of course an optimal state of affairs for Atlanta, but the win came at a cost. That's because the Braves' Game 1 starter, Charlie Morton, will miss the remainder of the World Series because of a fractured right fibula. Morton suffered the injury in the second inning, when a Yuli Gurriel comebacker struck him on the shin: 

Impressively, Morton was able to remain in the game and face another three batters (striking out two of them) before exiting. The hope is that he'll be ready for a normal spring training in 2022. 

During the NLCS, the Braves were essentially down to three starters -- Morton, Max Fried, and Ian Anderson, plus a bullpen game in Game 4 against the Dodgers. It would be highly difficult for Brian Snitker to go to a bullpen game twice in this series and have a functioning bullpen for the other games, so the Braves will probably need to find a plug-in. Drew Smyly, who did the heavy lifting in that Game 4 against L.A., is one option. Kyle Wright is another possibility, as is whoever replaces Morton on the Braves' World Series roster. Whatever the path forward, the loss of Morton is highly damaging to Atlanta's hopes. 

Braves in a good spot, historically speaking

The Morton injury notwithstanding, the Braves are in the stronger position, which is of course the thing about winning Game 1s. Across the history of all best-of-seven MLB postseason series, the team winning Game 1 has gone on to win that series 63.7 percent of the time. For teams in the Braves' exact circumstances -- i.e., starting the series on the road -- that figure falls to 58.4 percent. Still, those are promising figures from the Atlanta standpoint. 

Don't despair, Astros rooters. Teams down 0-1 in a best-of-seven postseason series and playing Game 2 at home have won Game 2 62.3 percent of the time. So history suggests Houston will even up the series on Wednesday night.

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Happy Halloween, everyone. 

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October 30, 2021, 12:14 AM
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October 27, 2021, 5:02 AM
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October 27, 2021, 4:20 AM
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Ballgame. Braves lead the World Series 1-0. The Astros have lost five straight home World Series games, which is weird.

October 27, 2021, 4:18 AM
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October 27, 2021, 4:17 AM
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Will Smith on trying to protect a 6-2 lead. The Braves are three outs away from being three wins away from a championship.

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October 27, 2021, 4:03 AM
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Yuli Gurriel is about to become a GIF. Ugly slide.

October 27, 2021, 3:59 AM
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Astros get a run on a Yordan triple (!) and a Correa grounder. Alvarez has one triple in his regular season career and he's now tripled in back-to-back postseason games.

October 27, 2021, 3:56 AM
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Wonder if they challenged whether Swanson left third base early on the sac fly. The play at home wasn't all that close. Braves now up 6-1 with six outs to go.

October 27, 2021, 3:48 AM
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Michael Brantley with a hard liner down the left-field line, but Eddie Rosario made an outstanding play to keep Brantley on first with a single. 

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