World Series Score: Braves Take Game 3 Over Astros and Nearly Throw No-hitter in Shutout Win

The Atlanta Braves won Game 3 of the World Series 2-0 on Friday night thanks to a shutout performance by starter Ian Anderson and two relief pitchers. Two games to one, the Braves lead the best-of-seven series.

Anderson, a 23-year-old rookie, threw five innings of no-hit ball. The Braves manager Brian Snitker decided to let him go before he faced the Houston Astros for a third time because of his inconsistent command. Since then, the Braves bullpen has kept the game shut down.

Aledmys Diaz’s bloop single in front of Eddie Rosario in left field was Houston’s first hit of the game against Tyler Matzek. Since Jim Lonborg’s 7 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball in Game 2 of the 1967 World Series, the longest World Series no-hitter in history has come to an end. Alex Bregman’s single to start the ninth inning gave the Astros their lone hit of the game.

Having pitched at least five scoreless innings, Anderson became the first starting pitcher in the history of the World Series to be removed from the game. During the playoffs, Anderson has a 1.59 ERA after four starts and 17 innings of work.

Austin Riley’s one-out double in the third inning brought in Freddie Freeman for the first run of the game. A solo home run from Atlanta catcher Travis d’Arnaud in the eighth inning by Astros reliever Kendall Graveman was a valuable insurance run. Through the first three games of the series, D’Arnaud has five hits.

On Saturday night, the Astros return to Trust Park for Game 4 of the series. Here are five things we learned from Game 3:

Dominant? No, but the Astros were held to three walks and a hit by a batter by Ian Anderson in Game 5 against the highest-scoring offense in baseball. Aside from getting four outs, he threw almost as many balls as strikes (37). (39). It is tied for third place in Braves postseason history for the longest no-hitter by a starter:

  1. Derek Lowe: 5 1/3 innings vs. Giants in 2010 NLDS Game 4
  2. Bill James: 5 1/3 innings vs. Athletics in 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 1995 World Series Game 6

In the history of the World Series, Anderson’s no-hit bid is second only to that of former Giants righty Jeff Tesreau. For five and a half innings in the first game of the 1912 World Series, Tesreau held the Red Sox without a single hit.

World Series Game 3
World Series Game 3

Only one Astros batter had an expected batting average of over.270 against Anderson, according to Statcast (based on exit velocity and launch angle). The lineout by Martin Maldonado in the fifth inning was exactly like that. 67 percent of the time, identically batted balls result in a hit. The Astros didn’t do much else against Anderson besides that. Take a look at his pitches:

The best way to avoid the heart of a zone is to avoid it entirely. As expected, Anderson held the Astros to an average exit velocity of 85.6 mph, which is a remarkable achievement. Being unable to get a grip on the ball because you are constantly reaching is difficult.

Anderson was unable to continue his no-hit bid because Braves manager Brian Snitker did not want him to go through the lineup a third time. It’s completely understandable. This is a great team and Anderson was only average at best. Atlanta’s high-stakes innings were ready to go, and the bullpen was rested. Why would you try to steal outs from a starter who had to balance on a tightrope all night? Regardless, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The bullpen was almost unhittable

Matzek was expected to allow a hit, as he has been one of the most dominant pitchers in this postseason, in both leagues. To score Houston’s first run, Aledmys Diaz hit a soft floater to shallow left that was dunked by Eddie Rosario. 44 percent of the time, similar batted balls (based on exit velocity, launch angle, etc.) fall for a hit. Well-placed, but not well-struck.

Diaz’s eighth-inning hit was the first of the game. For the first time since Game 2 of the 1967 World Series, when Jim Lonborg of the Red Sox did it all by himself, the Braves are the only team to go seven innings without allowing a hit in a World Series game. With two outs in the eighth inning, Lonborg lost his no-hitter bid and had to settle for a one-hit shutout.

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After Alex Bregman’s opposite-field single to start the ninth inning, the next three batters all struck out to end the game. The Astros were held to two hits or fewer for only the fifth time in 2021 in Game 3 of their 175th game of the season. Once in April, twice in July, once in September, and now once again in October, the Braves have gotten them.

When Houston entered Game 5 with an average of 6.33 runs per game this postseason, five Braves pitchers held the Astros to just two soft singles in nine innings. AJ Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek, and Will Smith all came in after Anderson to finish the five-inning no-hitter. The best nine innings in the history of the game.

Atlanta Scratched Across a Run

Since it should have been more than one run, I’ll admit it: However, for a few innings there, the Braves seemed to regret scoring just one run in the third inning, even though the single run held up. Like Anderson, Luis Garcia walked four times in 3 2/3 innings in Game 5 for the Astros, but he needed 72 pitches to get the final 11 outs. After the first two rounds of play, he was not allowed to face the third lineup.

Eddie Rosario walked and Freddie Freeman singled in Atlanta’s third-inning comeback. Austin Riley’s double down the left-field line scored the game’s first run after Ozzie Albies struck out. To begin the action sequences:

With the bases loaded and one out, Riley’s double brought in a run. Despite Jorge Soler’s walk, Garcia got Adam Duvall to pop up in foul territory and Travis d’Arnaud to strike out, leaving the bases full. The following are some run-expectancy figures:

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