Culture / Sporting Life

Super Marwin — Gonzalez Honors the Best Baseball Friends Ever By Sending the World Series Back Home to the City He Loves

In Spoiling the Atlanta Braves' Party Plans, Marwin Gonzalez and the Astros Show the Power of Rare Bonds

BY // 11.01.21

ATLANTA — Marwin Gonzalez throws his fist into the air, snapping it across his entire body. He adds a scream for his dugout, for the team he’s always felt most at home with. This career .256 hitter can turn into Super Marwin for these Houston Astros when they need him most. And now he has another World Series moment for the franchise that always has his heart.

There aren’t many baseball love stories sweeter than Marwin Gonzalez and the Astros. This latest chapter just happened to break those Tomahawk Chop mad Braves fans’ collective hearts — and maybe flip an entire World Series on its head.

“I play with some of these guys for seven years,” Gonzalez says of teammates like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. “They’re more than just teammates. They’re my family.”

The family business is still going strong. The Astros are still showing why they’re the most clutch Houston sports team ever, still defying the doubts howling at the front door. This time, the Astros find themselves trailing the Atlanta Braves 4-0 after a first inning grand slam in an absolutely bonkers Truist Park, already down three games to one in the series.

So what does this tough, proud, talented bunch do? They put seven runs up in the next four innings, take the lead for good on Marwin Gonzalez’s first hit since October 3 and win going away 9-5. That’s about as big a championship flex in a potential elimination game as you’ll ever get.

Down a grand slam, the Astros rip the heart out of a packed ballpark that’s all but already planning the championship parade. Walking out of the stadium after 1 am, with Halloween already having turned into the first day of November, the first thing you notice is how many smashed glass bottles and discarded other junk have been pounded into the streets of The Battery, the fancy mixed-use center built around this very suburban feeling stadium.

Braves fans didn’t smash this many bottles — and leave this much garbage — after Atlanta’s Game 3 and Game 4 wins. This is the debris of an assumed championship not celebrated.

This is what the Astros can do not just to an opposing team, but to an entire opposing city. These Astros of Altuve, Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman and Co. are the ultimate you’d better not assume victory missioners.

“I say keep fighting,” Correa says. “I’m a huge MMA fan, and I’ve seen lots of guys almost knocked out. And they battle back to win the fight. We were down 3-1. Now we’re still down 3-2. I truly believe, if there’s one team that can accomplish that (comeback) in this league, it’s us.”

The Astros rap out 12 hits and work six walks from Braves pitching in a must-win game. And it’s a steady onslaught rather than big booms. Houston does not hit a home run. But defensive catcher Martin Maldonado drives in three runs. Correa and Gurriel each go 3 for 5. The slumping and physically hindered Alex Bregman knocks in the first run with a scorching double.

These Astros are coming as one. Relentless. Unapologetic. Unafraid. And clutch. So clutch.

“Complete team effort,” Bregman tells a small group of reporters outside the Visitors Clubhouse at Truist Field. “Up and down the lineup. Our pitching staff. Everybody.”

The Houston Astros defeated the Chicago White Sox 9-5 behind s 5-run 7th inning, highlighted by a Carlos Correa 2-RBI double and a Kyle Tucker 2-run home run. The Astros now lead 2 games to none in a best-of-five American League Division Series
Astros catcher Martin Maldonado is a true difference maker for this pitching staff. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

When it’s over, and the Astros have spoiled another city’s grand party plans, Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Correa and Martin Maldonado pack together on a golf cart to be zipped around the bowels of Truist Field to the Braves rather fancy interview room. Sitting there on the cart, crammed together, with Gonzalez in the back seat, they look like three old friends going on another adventure.

Which, they really are.

Marwin Gonzalez’s Journey Back Home

When the Red Sox released Marwin Gonzalez in late August after he hit a mere .202 in 242 at-bats for them, this 32-year-old looked much closer to the end of his Major League Baseball career than the beginning. He’s only on the Astros’ World Series roster because rookie Jake Meyers is too hurt to be.

But there is something about playing for the Astros — more specifically something about playing with these guys, his friends — that gets Gonzalez going.

“It feels like home,” he says of being on the Astros. “You sleep better in your bed than you sleep in a hotel. So it’s kind of like I see it that way.”

And there Gonzalez is in the fifth inning in the fifth game of the World Series, stepping in against the Braves most effective reliever, A.J. Minter, with the game tied at 5 and the bases loaded with Astros. Loaded with Marwin Gonzalez’s friends. Yuli Gurriel is on third base. Alex Bregman is on second and Martin Maldonado is on first.

Taking a cue from his best friend Jose Altuve, who loves to attack the first pitch, Gonzalez sends the first thing Minter throws him into left center for a hit. Two runs score. Marwin Gonzalez is on first base and the entire Astros dugout is roaring right with him.

“Marwin. . .  that was a big hit,” Astros manager Dusty Baker smiles. “That was a real big hit.”

It resulted in Gonzalez’s first runs batted in since September 20th. He’s been kept in mothballs for most of these playoffs. But it’s late October, and Marwin Gonzalez knows all about unexpected World Series moments.

Braves fans didn’t smash this many bottles — and leave this much garbage — after Atlanta’s Game 3 and Game 4 wins. This is the debris of an assumed championship not celebrated.

Of course, Gonzalez hit the home run in Los Angeles that changed everything in the 2017 World Series against the LA Dodgers, the home run that gave the Astros the chance to win their championship. That home run in the ninth inning off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen tied the game, preventing Houston from falling into a 0-2 series deficit that would have been almost impossible to overcome.

This go-ahead hit in Atlanta is not quite that dramatic. But it’s just as sweet. Maybe even sweeter in a different way because of all that Marwin Gonzalez has gone through since then. He tried playing in Minnesota and Boston, but never really found the same fit he did in Houston.

Maybe because he wasn’t playing with his friends. Friends like Correa and Altuve, a near brother, who both urged Astros general manager James Click to sign Gonzalez to a minor league contract when no one else really wanted him.

“We know when the moments are big, it’s not going to be too big for him,” Correa says of Gonzalez. “He showed us tonight on a cold night facing Minter, who’s nasty. And going out there and helping the team win the game. We just want one at-bat. We preach it all the time.

“One at-bat can win the series, and he gave us a chance tonight.”

It would be a night where the Astros created their own chances — and turned back misery.

A Grand Slam Deficit

When Adam Duvall hits a grand slam off Astros starter Framber Valdez in the bottom of the first inning, Truist Park erupts into pure spasms of unbridled joy. The championship party has already begun. To many of the fans, you might as have uncorked the champagne.

These Astros are better than that, though. Rudy Tomjanovich would absolutely love this team. Never underestimate the heart of a champion indeed. Jose Altuve and Co. come back to score two runs in the second — thanks in large part to Bregman’s best moment of the entire postseason, a laced double into deep left center field. And they score two more in the third inning with a fielding error on Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (he’s certainly no Carlos Correa) and a Correa double the big blows.

“They’re more than just teammates. They’re my family.” — Marwin Gonzalez

Suddenly, it’s 4-4. Suddenly, the raucous party scene inside the Braves ballpark morphs into a nervous murmur.

Freddie Freeman — perhaps the ultimate Braves hero — hits a bomb off Valdez over the Coca-Cola sign in right center to give Atlanta the lead back at 5-4. Truist Park regains some of its spark. But the Astros are not done yet.

Houston Astros Marwin Gonzalez
Marwin Gonzalez knows how to come up in big moments for the Houston Astros. He’s been doing it for a long time. (Photo by F. Carter Smith.)

Not with Martin Maldonado, who all logic screamed should be lifted for a pinch hitter, working a bases loaded walk off Minter, refusing to swing. Not with Marwin grabbing another big little chunk of Astros postseason history.

“It feels amazing,” Gonzalez says. “This is part of my family. The guys welcomed me like I never left. That made me feel special too.”

Marwin Gonzalez is home. In Houston. And he’s sending the World Series back there too.

De Beers


Featured Properties