World Series score: Braves take game 3 over Astros and throw almost no-hitter in shutout victory

Starter Ian Anderson and two Atlanta Braves relievers kept the Houston Astros unbeaten through seven innings en route to a critical 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night. The Braves now lead the best-of-seven series with two games to one.

The 23-year-old rookie Anderson spun five of those no-hit innings. He did so despite inconsistent command, and Braves manager Brian Snitker lifted him before he could face the tough Houston lineup a third time. The decision proved to be wise when the Braves’ bullpen completed the shutout.

Houston finally managed its first hit when pinch hitter Aledmys Diaz led the eighth out against Tyler Matzek by dumping a bloop single in front of Eddie Rosario on the left. Thus ended what was the longest World Series no-hit bid since Jim Lonborg’s 7 2/3 hitless innings in Game 2 of the 1967 Fall Classic. The Astros finished with two hits on the night as Alex Bregman started the ninth inning with a single.

As for Anderson, he became the first starting pitcher in World Series history to be removed after throwing at least five no-hit innings. After four starts and 17 innings during those playoffs, Anderson can now boast an ERA of 1.59.

The game’s first run came on a one-out double by Austin Riley in the third inning that put Freddie Freeman on. Atlanta catcher Travis d’Arnaud added a valuable insurance run in the eighth when he hit a solo homerun from Astros reliever Kendall Graveman. D’Arnaud now has five hits through the first three games in the series.

The Astros will try to level the series in Game 4 Saturday night back at Truist Park. Here are five takeaways from game 3.

Anderson was unbeatable

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Dominant? Not necessarily, but Ian Anderson threw five innings without a hit against the Astros in Game 5, limiting the highest-scoring offense in baseball to three times and one hit. He struck out four and threw almost as many balls (37) as strikes (39). It’s a draw for the third longest no-hit bid of a starter in Braves’ postseason history:

  1. Derek Lowe: 5 1/3 innings vs. Giants in 2010 NLDS Game 4
  2. Bill James: 5 1/3 innings vs. athletics in the 1914 World Series Game 2
  3. Ian Anderson: 5 innings vs. Astros in 2021 World Series Game 3
  4. Tom Glavine: 5 innings vs. Cubs in 1998 NLDS Game 2
  5. Tom Glavine: 5 innings vs. Cleveland in the 1995 World Series Game 6

Anderson’s bid without being hit is the second longest of a rookie in World Series history, after only former Giants right-back Jeff Tesreau. Tesreau kept the Red Sox out of the hit column for 5 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the 1912 World Series.

According to Statcast, only one Astros batter put a ball into play with an expected batting average north of .270 (based on exit velocity and firing angle) against Anderson. It was Martin Maldonado’s lineout in the fifth inning. Similar battered balls are hit 67 percent of the time. Other than that, the Astros did nothing hard against Anderson. Look at his seats:

Ian Anderson avoided the center of the plate in game 3.

Baseball Savant

Can’t avoid the heart of the zone much better than that. Not surprisingly, the Anderson kept the Astros at an average starting speed of 85.6 mph, which is amazing. Hard to drive the ball when you get nothing in the wheelhouse and have to reach all the time.

Unfortunately, Braves manager Brian Snitker did not want Anderson to go through the lineup a third time, so he was not allowed to continue the no-hit bid. It is understandable. The Astros are excellent, and as effective as Anderson was, he was not razor sharp. The bullpen was rested and Atlanta had their high gearing innings all together. Why try to steal outs with a starter who walked a tight rope all night? Either way, a historic excursion for Anderson.

The bull was almost unbeatable

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It reckons that Tyler Matzek, arguably the most dominant pitcher in both leagues this post-season, would surrender the blow that broke the no-hitter. Aledmy’s Diaz lifted a soft float to the low left that thumped in front of Eddie Rosario for Houston’s first hit. Similarly hit balls (based on exit speed, firing angle, etc.) fall for a hit 44 percent of the time. Not well beaten, but well placed.

Diaz’s hit came leading from the eighth inning. As we have previously noted, the Braves are the first team not to allow a hit through seven innings in a World Series match, since Jim Lonborg of the Red Sox did it all alone in Match 2 of the 1967 World Series against the Cardinals. Lonborg lost their no-hit bid by two outs in the eighth inning and had to settle for the complete game one-hit shutout.

Alex Bregman started the ninth inning with an opposite field single, though the next three batters made outs to end the match. Game 3 was the 175th game in 2021 for the Astros, and only the fifth time they were held to two hits or less. The Mariners got them twice in April, the White Sox got them in July, the Athletics got them in September, and now the Braves got them in October.

The Astros went into Game 5 with an average of 6.33 runs per game this postseason – they had scored at least three runs in all 12 postseason games – yet five Braves pitchers kept Houston to two soft singles in nine innings in Game 5 Anderson started and threw five no-hit innings and was then followed in a row by AJ Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith. Ni innings of excellence.

Atlanta scratched over a race

And truth be told, it should have been more than a race. On a couple of laps there, it felt like the Braves would regret scoring only one run in the third inning, even if one run held up. Like Anderson, Astro’s fair Luis Garcia was actually wild in Game 5 – he went four in 3 2/3 innings – even though he needed 72 spots to get 11 outs. He was also not allowed to meet the lineup a third time.

Atlanta’s third-inding rally started with a walk by Eddie Rosario and a single by Freddie Freeman. After an Ozzie Albies strike out, Austin Riley drove in the first race of the match with a double down along the left field line. For the action shots:

Riley’s double brought a race home and also put runners on second and third bases with one out. Jorge Soler then went to fill the bases, but Garcia rebounded to get Adam Duvall to show up in bad territory and Travis d’Arnaud to knock out, which stranded the bases filled. Some run expectations:

  • Runners in first and second place without outs: 1,373 races are expected in the inning (after Freeman’s single)
  • Bases filled with one output: 1,520 races are expected in the inning (after Riley’s double, one race already in)

Braves came in below the expected totals in both scenarios. Against a team like the Astros one can not waste such opportunities and expect not to regret it, but Atlanta was able to penetrate the needle in game 3. The race stood up even though the Braves went 1 to 6 with runners in the scoring position in the game, and stranded nine runners.

d’Arnaud is building an MVP case

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There is still a long way to go in this series, although Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud should be the frontrunner for the World Series MVP award right now. He delivered a huge insurance run with an eighth inning solo homerun against Astro right Kendall Graveman in Game 3, turning a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 lead.

It was a cold and rainy night in Atlanta – far from baseball weather – and it takes some strength to drive a ball out to the Death Center under these conditions. With 112.6 mph, the home run is both the hardest ball d’Arnaud has hit this season and the hardest hit ball that Graveman allowed this season. It is also the first home run that Graveman will be allowed to get a fair dough in 2021.

Through three fights, d’Arnaud is 5 for 12 (.417) with two homeruns in the series. It is the highest batting average of any regular on both teams and d’Arnaud is the only player with multiple homeruns in the series. Again, the World Series is far from over, but d’Arnaud is making an impact and right now he is the favorite for the MVP award.

The Braves have the edge

Historically, teams leading a 2-1 lead in a best of seven have won series 70 percent of the time, so the odds are in Atlanta’s favor at the moment. Of course, the World Series is far from over, especially with a few potentially chaotic bullpen games on deck the next few days. For now, however, the Braves only need to win two of the next four games to win a title, while the Astros need to win three of four.

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