Braves 6, Astros 1: Atlanta’s late surge seals victory as Houston’s offense struggles

Jose Altuve battled through multiple pitches from Pierce Johnson, with the energy of the Minute Maid Park crowd escalating. Despite Johnson’s six curveballs failing to retire Altuve, he attempted a seventh, only for Altuve to deliver a two-out single up the middle. This hit advanced Mauricio Dubón to second base, positioning him as the potential tying run in the seventh inning of what was shaping up to be a pitching-dominated contest between two powerful offenses. With Yordan Alvarez waiting on deck, Atlanta called upon left-hander A.J. Minter to confront the Astros’ slugger.

Alvarez, known for thwarting such strategic moves in the past, was unable to replicate his success this time, popping up a high fastball to leave two runners stranded. Minter’s performance maintained the Braves’ narrow one-run lead. Despite their active display over the weekend against the Rangers, the Astros’ batting lineup was subdued on Monday, suffering a 6-1 defeat in the opening game of their series against Atlanta.

Altuve continued his impressive form, securing three singles as Houston’s leadoff hitter, marking his fourth three-hit game in the span of five days. However, he received little support from his teammates as the Astros managed only seven hits, all singles with no extra bases. Four of these hits were off Darius Vines, the Braves’ right-handed pitcher who lasted 4⅔ innings in his third major league start.

Vines relied on a mix of cutters and changeups, with his fastball topping out at 93 mph. Houston could only muster four singles against him, with Altuve contributing two of them. Alex Bregman drove in a run with a single in the first inning. Despite Vines and four relievers combining to shut down the Astros for the remainder of the game, the Braves’ offense extended their lead in the ninth inning.

Entering the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead, Atlanta faced Houston’s closer Josh Hader in an attempt to maintain their advantage. However, Hader struggled, allowing four of the six batters he faced to reach base, with two of them scoring after he was replaced by Brandon Bielak. Hader, who signed a lucrative five-year, $95 million contract in the offseason, has struggled with a 9.39 ERA after nine appearances.

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