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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Maddux returns to Atlanta, throws out ceremonial first pitch

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ATLANTA (AP) — Hall of Famer Greg Maddux threw out the ceremonial first pitch for Sunday night’s Game 5 of the World Series.

Maddux, wearing his Braves jersey, tipped his cap in response to an ovation from fans as he walked onto the field. Fittingly, he threw the pitch to Eddie Perez, who was often his designated catcher.

Perez, also a former Braves coach, now is a special advisor for player development for the team.

Maddux won four consecutive Cy Young Awards for the Chicago Cubs and the Braves, including in 1995 when he posted a remarkable 19-2 record with a 1.63 ERA for Atlanta’s 1995 World Series champion team.

It was a rare Atlanta appearance for “Mad Dog” Maddux. The 55-year-old Maddux is the pitching coach for UNLV.

SLUMPING BREGMAN MOVES DOWN

Houston manager Dusty Baker moved struggling third baseman Alex Bregman down in his batting order.

Entering Game 5, Bregman had only one hit in 14 World Series at-bats (.071) with no homers and one RBI. He was hitting seventh. He was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in Saturday’s night’s 3-2 loss while hitting third in Game 4.

Baker met with Bregman to discuss the move.

“He understood,” Baker said. “He went out and took extra BP and just trying to find his stroke. So he’s a team guy. There’s no problem with him moving.”

Baker said he hoped to move Bregman back up in a lineup with the designated hitter if the Series returns to Houston for Game 6.

PERFECT AT HOME

The Braves entered Game 5 of the World Series against Houston trying to extend one of their most impressive home postseason performances in team history.

Entering Sunday night’s game, the Braves were 7-0 at home in the postseason, including wins in Games 3 and 4 of the World Series. It is their second-longest home winning streak in the postseason, and the longest in one postseason. They won eight consecutive home postseason games from Oct. 7, 1995, to Oct. 9, 1996.

Overall, the Braves had won 12 of their last 13 home games before Game 5.

Despite the strong finish, the Braves’ home advantage wasn’t nearly as notable in the regular season. They were 42-38 at home and 46-35 on the road.

Astros manager Dusty Baker knows his team also plays well at home. The Astros are 5-2 at home this postseason but needed to avoid elimination to move the Series back to Houston.

“I’m just trying to figure out a way to get back in this thing, and more than anything, figure out a way to get back to Houston with some life because Houston gives us what Atlanta gives them,” Baker said.

SUPER ROSARIO

One day later, Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario’s backhanded catch at the wall of Jose Altuve’s drive in the eighth inning was still being discussed. Rosario, running at full speed, appeared to have luck on his side as he stuck his glove out at the last second for the catch.

“I tip my cap,” right-hander Luke Jackson said. “What a play by Rosario. I think that’s why he’s got the nickname Super Rosario right now.”

It was a highlight of Atlanta’s 3-2 win but not necessarily one to use as a guide for young outfielders, according to Braves manager Brian Snitker.

“I’m not even going to go look at that again,” Snitker said after the game. “I’m just glad he caught it. … That’s probably not an instructional video we show our minor leaguers.”

ALVAREZ SORE BUT STARTING

Left fielder Yordan Alvarez, who crashed into the wall trying to catch Jorge Soler’s go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of Game 4, was sore but able to start Sunday night.

Baker said he initially feared Alvarez hurt his shoulder reaching for the ball when he hit the fence.

“He banged his knee on the fence because he had paint or something that came off on his knee,” Baker said.

ASTROS’ NL OUTFIELD

Baker had to reconfigure his outfield for the World Series games played in Atlanta, with no designated hitter under National League rules.

Alvarez normally was a designated hitter but his move to the outfield meant Kyle Tucker has shifted to center field, where he played only four games in the regular season. Michael Brantley is starting in right field.

“Playing center is definitely different, but I think I’ve done a good job,” Tucker said Saturday. “I just try to go out there and do my best and try to catch as many balls and get in as fast as possible. I think overall we’ve done pretty good.”

REMEMBERING ’95 — SORT OF

Braves closer Will Smith, a native of Newnan, Georgia, said he cherishes memories of watching Atlanta games with his father. But the memories of the Braves’ 1995 World Series title are faint. Smith was only 6 and on vacation in Panama City, Florida, with his family when the Braves beat the Indians in the World Series.

“I just remember my dad being super excited when Marquis Grissom caught the last out,” Smith said. “I knew they won, but I was still too young to remember much.”

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



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