Braves nearly no-hit Astros to take 2-1 lead

October 30, 2021
Braves reliever A.J. Minter in the sixth inning of Game 3.

ATLANTA — It wasn’t Don Larsen jumping into Yogi Berra’s arms.

It wasn’t Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, or John Smoltz with a dominating World Series performance.

But no matter, Atlanta’s pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory over the Houston Astros at Truist Park, taking a 2 games to 1 advantage in the World Series.

It was Atlanta’s most dominant outing in a World Series game since Glavine and Mark Wohlers combined for a one-hitter in Game 6 to clinch the 1995 World Series title.

Really, this one could easily have been a no-hitter, the first since Larsen’s in 1956.

The Astros broke up the no-hot bid in the eighth when pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz hit a blooper that fell just in front of of left fielder Eddie Rosario, who got a late jump on the ball, causing the sellout crowd of 42,898 to moan. The Astros mustered only one more hit in the ninth inning.

It was the longest no-hitter in a World Series game since Jim Lonborg of Game 2 of the 1967 World Series when he went 7 ⅔ innings.

No matter, Tyler Matzek calmly struck out pinch-hitter Jason Castro for the first out. Jose Altuve popped up for the second out. Pinch-runner Jose Siri then stole second base, and advanced to third when catcher Travis d’Arnaud’s throw sailed into center field.

No sweat. Matzek induced a weak pop-up from Michael Brantley, with the ball dropping harmlessly into third baseman Austin Riley’s glove for the third out.

It sucked the life out of the Astros and d’Arnaud iced the game with a two-out homer over the center-field in the bottom of the eighth, sending the crowd screaming into the night.

On a night they honored Hank Aaron, remembered Don Sutton, Phil Niekro and Bill Bartholomay, Atlanta sure carved out their own modern-day piece of history.

It started with starter Ian Anderson pitching five hitless innings.

And four relievers later came the shutout.

GAME 3: Atlanta holds emotional tribute to Hank Aaron before the game 

NEAR HISTORY: Braves pitchers combine for seven hitless innings until blooper

Anderson is now 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his postseason career, the fourth-lowest ERA through the first eight postseason starts, trailing only Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson (0.99), Orlando Hernandez (1.22) and Cliff Lee (1.26).

He still has not permitted more than two runs in his eight career starts, the fourth-most in franchise history behind only Hall of Famers Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux.

“He’s like 65 years old in a 23-year-old person’s body,” Atlanta reliever Luke Jackson said. “It seems like he’s seen everything when he hasn’t seen anything. He’s just an old soul. He kind of goes out there and does the work, punches the clock kind of guy, 9-to-5.’’

Really, no one even hit the ball hard during his 76-pitch outing.

He had only one 1-2-3 inning in the stretch, issuing three walks and a hit-by-pitch, but never got into any trouble.

Still, as his teammates will tell you, he loves the big stage.

This is a 23-year-old kid, the youngest on either roster, who beat Gerrit Cole in his major-league debut. He became the first pitcher in baseball’s live-ball era to pitch at least six innings and yield one or no hits in three of his first 11 starts. And he became the first pitcher since Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson in 1905-1911 to yield two or fewer earned runs in his first five postseason starts.

“To his credit, he never stops pitching, he never gives in,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “If he doesn’t have it early, he’ll usually right the ship and get it going. He has a really good knack of limiting damage when he’s trying to get to that spot. He’s done a really good job of learning how to prepare for a game to break hitters down. …

“He’s serious and focused on what he’s doing, and the way he handles himself, he’s just a mature kid.”

And a cool, calm, customer on the mound.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale

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