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Braves blank Astros 2-0 to take 2-1 lead in World Series

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On a dark and dreary night in Cobb County, Ian Anderson and Atlanta’s bullpen came up huge and pitched a shutout against Houston’s high-powered lineup.

2021 World Series Game 3: Houston Astros v. Atlanta Braves Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves pitching staff took a combined no-hitter into the eighth-inning on a cold and misty World Series night against the Houston Astros. Once the mist cleared, the Braves found themselves with a 2-0 shutout victory — giving the Braves a 2-1 lead in the World Series and their first home win in the Fall Classic in a very long time.

The game got started with Ian Anderson walking Jose Altuve, and that was a sign of the work that Anderson was going to have to put in in order to get as deep as he did into this game. After he got a double play to wipe out the first two batters of the game, he picked up another walk before getting Yordan Alvarez to fly out. I’m walking you through this first inning because while he was mowing through batters in this one, it was taking him a bunch of pitches to do so.

On the other side of things, the Braves were also forcing their opposing starting pitcher to put in a lot of work. Luis Garcia needed a bunch of pitches to get out of both the first and second inning and once the third inning came around, the Braves finally got to him. Travis d’Arnaud did hit a double in the second inning that was really close to going out. Instead, it went off the bricks in right field for a double. File that in your memory banks for later on.

Shock of all shocks, Eddie Rosario got on base to lead things off in the third. After Rosario’s walk, Freddie Freeman followed that up with a single and with one out on the board, Austin Riley hit a double down the line to plate the first run of the game for the Braves. Riley’s hit had the stadium in Cobb County jumping and the Braves found themselves with a hard-fought lead.

Ian Anderson ended up finishing the fifth inning with 76 pitches to his name, three walks on his line, four strikeouts and zero hits allowed. Despite having Ian having the no-hitter in his bag, Brian Snitker made the bold decision to go to his bullpen. It was a controversial decision, sure, but also those 76 pitches to that point were really laborious. With the knowledge that he’s got a really good bullpen at his disposal, Snitker decided to go to A.J. Minter for the sixth inning and it was time for the relief corps to carry the Braves home from that point forward.

World Series - Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Michael Zarrilli/Getty Images

Aside from hitting Alex Bregman with a pitch on his ankle (which looked really painful), Minter’s inning in the sixth went really well. Luke Jackson got the call for the seventh inning and he promptly retired the Astros in order. Up to that point, the Braves still had a combined no-hitter intact and were completely holding Houston in check.

Then the eighth inning be, and the Astros finally got themselves a hit. It came off of Tyler Matzek and it was a bloop single that neither Eddie Rosario or Dansby Swanson could get to. Jose Siri came on as a pinch-runner and he stole second with two outs. As he got second, Dansby Swanson made a meal out of trying to tag him out and the ball got into center field. Siri made it to third, the error was charged to Travis d’Arnaud and the tying run was at third. Tyler Matzek duly noted it and then proceeded to reach 99 miles-per-hour on the radar gun as he got out of the inning without giving up a run. It was yet another huge inning of work in a high-pressure situation from an increasingly-impressive Tyler Matzek.

World Series - Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros - Game Three
Matzek continues to be a monster.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The bottom of the eighth rolled around and the Braves were in desperate need of some insurance. After Jorge Soler grounded out and Adam Duvall struck out, it was up to Travis d’Arnaud to get something going in this frame. He got things going alright, as he took a first-pitch sinker from Kendall Graveman and smacked a rocket over the fence in center field to make it 2-0 Braves and to send the ballpark in Cobb County into complete and utter pandemonium. After coming very close to hitting a dinger earlier in the game, Travis d’Arnaud got his second homer of this World Series and it was an utterly massive run for the Braves.

So the top of the ninth came around and it was time for Will Smith to pick up the save. In typical Will Smith fashion, he gave up a leadoff single to give the Astros a chance to tie up the game with one swing. However, Will Smith has been very good as of late and in what is also becoming typical Will Smith fashion, he proceeded to sit down the final three Astros batters in order to end the game, preserve the shutout, and give the Braves their first World Series home victory since all the way back in 1995.

It is impossible to say enough about how well the Braves pitched in this one. Pitching this well against this Astros lineup is absolutely incredible, and it started with the five good innings from Ian Anderson to kick things off. A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek, and Will Smith were more-than-capable of holding the tenuous lead and once they got some help from Travis d’Arnaud near the end of the game, it was academic from that point. The Braves now have a 2-1 lead in the World Series with two more home games left to play. They’re 6-0 at home during this Postseason and wouldn’t it be lovely if they got it up to 8-0? In order to do that, they’ve got to get to 7-0 and they’ll have their chance to do that tomorrow night.