ATLANTA, Ga. — As a misty October spray loomed over Atlanta, the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves played a toe-to-toe matchup that was infused with a pitching duel that kept everyone on their toes. 23-year-old Ian Anderson and the Braves bullpen would be the unsung heroes after throwing a combined seven no-hit innings, as they lay to rest an Astros offense and take a 2-1 lead in the World Series after their 2-0 win at Truist Park.
Anderson was the showrunner for the Braves as they looked to continue their postseason win streak. The sophomore pitched a whimsical five innings of no-hit ball before Brian Snitker made the decision to cut the rope and bring in the A.J. Minter. Anderson surrendered one walk and totaled four strikeouts and a hit-by-pitch to Carlos Correa in the fourth inning.
To many, the excitement of a no-hit bid kept people at the edge of their seats and allowed the magic of the postseason to linger. So there was no surprise to the reaction people had when Anderson put his glove down and let the bullpen manage the next 12 outs.
“I thought the fourth inning he really had to work to get through that. He had a really good fifth inning. And then I told him because he was like, are you sure? Are you sure? But I was just like, Ian, I’m going with my gut right here. Just my eyes, my gut,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said on his decision to pull his starter out of the game.
Anderson glowed with an infectious smile as he answered questions that commended his pitching performance. Many have attributed his success to the way the 23-year-old has been able to carry himself, with a pristine attitude and humble ability to progress his game.
“I think the biggest thing tonight, why we had some success, we never really gave in,” Anderson said after his first World Series win. “There were definitely some counts that were in their favor. I think we just kept making pitches. He stuck with some of the pitches that I was spiking up there or didn’t quite have a feel for. We were able to make some big-time pitches when it mattered.”
As the intensity of a pitching duel evolved, Luis García got into trouble in the bottom of the third inning after an 85-mph cutter from the bat of Adam Duvall scurried its way down the third baseline, passing a diving Bregman to score Eddie Rosario from second base.
García, who managed his pitches with an eased composure, lasted 3.2 frames before being pulled out of the game for reliever Blake Taylor. The 24-year-old gave up a minimal three hits, four walks, and six strikeouts after throwing a total of 72 pitches. A respectable performance by a second-year rookie starter who made his first start in a World Series.
“I felt really good out there today, thank God. I felt confident in myself, thanks to God,” Garcia said after a quality outing. “The results weren’t there for us today, but I have a lot of confidence in this team and what we can do moving forward.”
The first hit for the Astros came off the bat of pinch-hitter Aledmys Díaz, who dunked a shallow bloop in between Dansby Swanson and Rosario in the top of the eighth inning. Rosario described the Astros’ first hit as a cautionary decision when not deciding to dive or go full-throttle on the hustle due to the deafening crowd noise and loss of communication through the roar; it was best to allow the hit than risk colliding with Swanson.
The Braves bullpen graced two hitless innings and was able to haul themselves out of trouble when José Siri — who pinch-ran for Díaz — capitalized on a throwing error by catcher Travis d’Arnaud that landed him on third base.
Although making some static in the seventh inning, the Astros emphasized their lack of production on limited opportunities against a lights-out Braves pitching staff. “They have a really good pitching staff all the way around. So no matter who’s coming in, you’ve got to stay focused and locked in.” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said of the Braves pitching staff.
The Braves added a home run to their Game 3 fun when d’Arnaud hammered a 97-mph slider to center field, giving his team the insurance necessary to savor some confidence that eventually led the Braves to a shutout.
d’Arnaud was given a well-respected round of compliments, advocating for his work managing the Braves pitching staff through their flaming performance. “Travis is a student of the game. He studies every hitter and knows how he wants to attack them. Yeah, he does a great job for us,” Rosario said on the 32-year-old veteran catcher.
The Astros announced they would start 38-year-old Zack Greinke in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night, with all intentions of tying the series at two to push the series back to Houston. The Braves will rely on their bullpen in Game 4 and 5 with the hopes of hoisting the World Series championship in front of their beloved fans.
“This Braves Country thing is real,” Snitker said. “It is so good, and our players love it, appreciate it, and it’s a real thing how these people come out and support this club. And they do feed off of it. I’m sorry, they feed off of it.”
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