Playing their first World Series home game since 1999, the Atlanta Braves gave their fans reason to cheer with a 2-0 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 3 on Friday at Truist Park.
After splitting the first two games in Houston, the Braves sent Ian Anderson to the mound for his first start in the Fall Classic. His last appearance was in the clinching Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the 23-year-old allowed one run in four innings.
The Astros countered with Luis Garcia in the biggest start of his young career. The 24-year-old had his best start of the playoffs in the decisive Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox. He struck out seven and allowed just one hit in 5.2 innings.
Despite having to navigate rainy weather throughout the game, the Braves' pitching staff was on point throughout. They had a combined no-hitter through seven innings before Aledmys Diaz singled to start the eighth.
Austin Riley doubled in the first run for the Braves in the bottom of the third off Garcia. Travis d'Arnaud provided an insurance run in the eighth with a solo homer to extend the lead to 2-0.
Notable Game Stats
- Austin Riley (ATL): 1-for-4, 2B, RBI, 2 K
- Ian Anderson (ATL): 5 IP, 3 BB, 4 K
- Travis d'Arnaud (ATL): 2-for-4, Solo HR, RBI
- Luis Garcia (HOU): 3.2 IP, 3 H, ER, 4 BB, 6 K
- Alex Bregman (HOU): 1-for-2, BB
- Jose Altuve (HOU): 0-for-3, BB, 2 K
Anderson, Bullpen Silence Astros Bats
Manager Brian Snitker didn't really have a difficult choice about pulling Anderson from this game.
The right-hander's five no-hit innings is impressive, but it doesn't tell the whole story about his performance. He threw 39 strikes to 37 balls, walked three and hit Carlos Correa with a pitch.
Despite being erratic overall, Anderson did put his name in the World Series record books:
MLB Stats @MLBStats
Ian Anderson is tied for the 2nd-longest no-hit bid by a <a href="https://twitter.com/Braves?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Braves</a> pitcher in a <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WorldSeries?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WorldSeries</a> game (Tom Glavine, 1995, Game 6).<br><br>He only trails Bill James who went 5 1/3 IP (1914, Game 2).<br><br>h/t: <a href="https://twitter.com/SlangsOnSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SlangsOnSports</a> <a href="https://t.co/TQgowjru8x">pic.twitter.com/TQgowjru8x</a>
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
Ian Anderson is officially out of Game 3. He tossed five no-hit innings and is the first pitcher since Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956 to finish a World Series game with at least five hitless innings. Anderson threw 76 pitches, 39 for strikes, struck out four and walked three.
As Zach Kram from The Ringer pointed out, there was an argument to at least let Anderson start the sixth inning based on what the Braves are going to do in the next two games:
Zach Kram @zachkram
Fact 1: Ian Anderson has allowed no hits—and just one batted ball that even *might* have gone for a hit.<br><br>Fact 2: Anderson has thrown just 76 pitches.<br><br>Fact 3: Atlanta has bullpen games scheduled each of the next two days.<br><br>How can you possibly remove him in this situation?
Ultimately, Snitker went to A.J. Minter to start the sixth. The left-hander was phenomenal in relief of Charlie Morton in Game 1, allowing just one run over 2.2 innings.
Minter only went one inning in Game 3. He didn't allow a baserunner and struck out two of the three hitters he faced. Luke Jackson came on in the seventh and was perfect to preserve the no-hitter.
Tyler Matzek, who has been Atlanta's ace reliever this postseason, was given eighth-inning duties. The first hitter he faced was Aledmys Diaz, who broke up the no-no with a bloop single into left field.
Jose Siri, who came on as a pinch runner, gave the Astros their first scoring threat with two outs in the eighth. He stole second base and advanced to third when Travis d'Arnaud's throw went into center field.
Matzek was able to escape unscathed by getting Michael Brantley to pop out to end the inning.
D'Arnaud made up for his error in the bottom of the eighth by providing an insurance run with a solo homer.
Snitker turned to his closer, Will Smith, to finish the game. Alex Bregman greeted him with a single to right field. The left-hander responded by retiring Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa and Kyle Tucker to preserve the win.
This was a crucial victory for the Braves because they are going with bullpen games in Games 4 and 5. They did have to use their best relievers Friday night, but Snitker was able to limit them to one inning each. None of them threw more than 17 pitches.
Minter, Jackson, Matzek and Smith should have no problem being ready tomorrow, if needed. Things will get more difficult if they have to pitch Saturday and potentially on Sunday.
That's a concern for tomorrow. Today, the Braves can celebrate knowing they are two wins away from winning a World Series for the first time since 1995.
Astros' Lackluster Effort Leaves Them in Another Playoff Hole
In Houston's five wins since the ALDS, it has averaged seven runs per game. In its four losses during that span, the offense has scored a total of 10 runs.
Jose Altuve has to get going for the AL champs. The seven-time All-Star is off to a 2-for-13 start with six strikeouts in this series. Both of his hits went for extra bases (double, homer) in Game 2.
Altuve hasn't done a lot of hitting this postseason. He is 10-for-53 overall, but seven of those hits have gone for extra bases.
The Braves' pitching staff was on another level in this game. Friday marked the first time that Houston has been shut out since Sept. 29 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
It would be a mistake to suggest that this is some sort of drought for the Astros. They just scored seven runs in Game 2 when the Braves had their best starter, Max Fried, on the mound.
When Houston had its back to the wall in Game 4 against the Red Sox, it scored seven runs with two outs in the ninth to turn a tie game into a 9-2 blowout win. It went on to outscore Boston 14-1 in the next two games to reach the World Series.
Houston's problem in Game 1 of the Fall Classic was it failed to capitalize on opportunities. The offense only went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Astros didn't even have those opportunities in Game 3. They only had two at-bats with a runner in scoring position.
This isn't an unusual position for the team. Houston trailed the Boston Red Sox 2-1 in the ALCS before rattling off three straight wins.
No one in the Astros locker room is going to panic right now. But they do need to put pressure on the Braves early in Game 4, especially knowing they can tax the bullpen for Game 5, if they want to avoid falling into a 3-1 hole.
The Astros and Braves will play Game 4 at Truist Park at 8:09 p.m. ET on Saturday, and the contest will be televised on Fox.