HOUSTON — José Urquidy started Eddie Rosario with strikes. Five of them in a row.
Looking calm and poised a night after overamped rotation-mate Framber Valdez was chased early, Urquidy’s control gave the Astros’ bats a chance to break out, and Houston rode a four-run second inning to a 7-2 win over Atlanta on Wednesday night that tied the World Series at one game apiece.
A 26-year-old right-hander from Mazatlan, Urquidy became the first Mexican pitcher to make three World Series starts. He was looking to rebound from his Game 3 loss at Boston in the AL Championship Series, when he got just five outs in a 12-3 defeat.
“My last outing was for sure bad,” he said through a translator Tuesday, “but there’s good days and bad days.”
This was a very good day.
Urquidy started 15 of 21 batters with strikes in improving his career Series record to 2-0. He allowed two runs and six hits in five innings with seven strikeouts, throwing 55 of 74 pitches for strikes.
He mixed 38 fastballs, 16 changeups (getting five swings and misses), 12 sliders and eight curveballs, keeping the Braves off-balance other than Travis d’Arnaud’s tying home run in the second inning and Freddie Freeman’s two-out RBI single in the fifth.
“I was very focused and throwing strikes and be attacking the hitters all the time, be in the strike zone,” he said.
A night earlier, Valdez threw just 11 of 21 pitches for strikes in the first inning, and the Braves burst to a 2-0 lead and never trailed. Valdez overthrew, and while his velocity was up, so were his pitches.
Urquidy recalled this week feeling nervous at the start of his Series debut, when he pitched five shutout innings of two-hit ball in a Game 4 win at Washington two years ago. He returned to face the Nationals’ final three batters of Houston’s Game 7 loss.
He’s the first Mexican-born pitcher with multiple World Series wins.
“I love it,” he said. “I love that feeling.”
By now, he’s used to the Series pressure.
“I know that it’s a big job that I have,” he said,” but I’m more excited and have left the nerves to the side a little bit.”