Rookie skips watching the World Series at the start of Game 5

ATLANTA (AP) – Tucker Davidson was in bed Sunday morning when his phone rang with Braves manager Brian Snitker online.

ATLANTA (AP) – Tucker Davidson was in bed Sunday morning when his phone rang with Braves manager Brian Snitker online.

Five days after watching the World Series opener from a hotel room about 700 miles from the stadium, the Atlanta hopeful would start Game 5.

“I was pumped,” he said. “I was like, ‘Let’s go do this! “”

Davidson’s journey from World Series spectator to pitcher resulted in neither fame nor shame. He looked like the inexperienced rookie he is, struggling to throw strikes.

A 25-year-old left-hander making his first appearance in the big leagues in 4.5 months, Davidson allowed four runs and got six strikeouts against the Houston Astros, who came back from a four-point deficit for a 9-5 victory Sunday night that forced Game 6.

“We were going to try to stretch it as much as we could, and I think we did,” Snitker said.

Given a 4-0 grand slam lead from Adam Duvall in the first set, Davidson abandoned Alex Bregman’s RBI brace and Martín Maldonado’s fly sacrifice in the second.

He gave up a pair of unearned runs in the third after shortstop Dansby Swanson let baseman Jose Altuve bounce out of his glove for a mistake. Davidson put on Michael Brantley and was replaced by Jesse Chavez, who dropped the double from Carlos Correa and the RBI from Yuli Gurriel who tied the score at 4.

Added to the roster after Charlie Morton broke his leg in Game 1 on Tuesday night, Davidson followed Ian Anderson and Dylan Lee to become Atlanta’s third consecutive rookie starting pitcher – a series first.

Snitker informed Davidson of the starting assignment around 11:30 a.m., his first major league appearance since June 15 and only the sixth of his career.

Snitker had deliberately delayed breaking the news to Davidson, as he had done for Lee a day earlier.

“I know their phones have exploded and would be and would process a lot,” the 66-year-old manager said.

About 8 and a half hours later, Davidson headed for the mound for what he called “one of my lifelong dreams”.

“As I walked over to the enclosure to warm myself up, I definitely soaked it,” he said. “People chanted my name.”

Then he tried to slow down. During his two innings, he came down several times and stood on the grass of the infield to breathe deeply.

“Every time you go out it’s like another game,” he said.

Davidson started with a slider to Altuve for a called strike and pulled it out on a popup. He hit 95.4 mph and came out first, forcing Correa to blend into a late-inning double play.

But he walked three of 11 batters and pitched only 28 of 53 pitches for strikes. He allowed two hits, blowing a fastball from Astros pitcher Framber Valdez for his only strikeout.

When Snitker came to the mound to take the ball, third baseman Austin Riley and wide receiver Travis d’Arnaud approached to pat Davidson on the back.

A 2016 19th-round draft pick from Midland College in Texas, Davidson made his big-league debut on September 26 against Boston. He started this season at Triple-Gwinnett and made four big league starts in one month with a 3.60 ERA and no decisions.

He entered the injured list with an inflamed left forearm, and his only appearance since was in an AAA game on October 3.

“I feel like my business was pretty good,” Davidson said. “The Fastball command was not where I wanted it to be. I gave some good hitters over the plate a few pitches, and they damaged them.


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Ronald Blum, The Associated Press

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