It’s kind of hard to believe we’re already three games into the World Series, right? Is it just me? You’d figure that after going back to a full season and a six-game NLCS I wouldn’t feel like baseball was still ending too soon, but here we are. We have at least two more games to go, so savor every pitch friends, as we try to figure out which Snitker gets to sit at the head of the table during Thanksgiving dinner this year:
Atlanta 2, Astros 0
Last night featured a pair of my new favorite pitchers, and you get to pick your Jethro Tull poison in honor of Ian Anderson: It was a wet, foggy night, so do you pick Aqualung? Or do you steal a New Yorkism about how the cold weather was (Thick As A) Brick? You have to choose one and I’m not letting you keep reading until you do. (Also I realize 50 isn’t actually brick, but it still looked pretty gross down there.)
Luis Garcia vs. Ian Anderson
It's the third time in the Wild Card era that both starting pitchers in a #WorldSeries game are rookies. pic.twitter.com/kBADcV2TUs
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 29, 2021
Ok good, we’re ready to begin then.
Things got pretty spicy from the get-go, as Anderson struggled with his secondary command, issuing a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve. He induced a weak grounder from Michael Brantley, though, and was forced to take part in the scariest play in baseball: a pitcher throwing to second base to start a double play. What is it about that throw that vexes them so? Is it the wide-open backdrop of grass? Do they have too much time to think about it? Who’s to say, pitchers are weird. Anderson’s throw did cause Dansby Swanson to need to run and jump over the bag to get the ball, but the double-play was turned with plenty of time and I’m probably the only person who is still thinking about it. The GIDP was followed up by a walk to Alex Bregman, but Yordan Alvarez flew out to left field on the first pitch of his at-bat.
After making the final out, Yordan ran out to play LF. Prior to this season that probably would have been seen as something the team was forced into since they didn’t have a DH, but this season Alvarez showed that he could play a very passable outfield, with 319 innings out there where he put up a -1 DRS and -1 OAA. In addition, the batted ball data was on his side:
Luis Garcia had the lowest percentage of batted balls hit to the left side of the field (about 25 percent) of any of the 92 pitchers with 2,000-plus pitches this season. The Astros should take that into account when deciding on a left fielder for Game 3.
— R.J. Anderson (@r_j_anderson) October 28, 2021
Which of course meant he was almost immediately involved on the defense, as Freddie Freeman flew out for the second out of the bottom half of the inning.
Speaking of Luis Garcia, he looked like he was picking up right where he had left off in the ALCS, albeit a little slower. His fastball velo was still comfortably sitting mid-90s, but he wasn’t tossing a barrage of 96+ like back in Houston.
But he blinked in the bottom of the third, when Eddie Rosario started off the home half with a walk, followed by a Freddie Freeman single to put runners on first and second. Ozzie Albies battled for seven pitches but ended up swinging through a beautiful changeup to strike out. Austin Riley was ready, though, hitting a double out to left field (of course) to put Atlanta on the board, although it was all they would score until the eighth.
When it came to pitching prowess, it was really the Ian Anderson show, as he took a no-hitter through five innings, needing only 74 pitches to get there. While his control tightened up considerably after the shaky first, it was one of those tightrope no-hitters, with three walks to go with four strikeouts through those five innings. Snitker didn’t let him go out for the sixth, which surely isn’t reminiscent of any controversial pitcher moves in recent years or would have caused a truly incredible amount of hot takes had it not worked out. Thankfully we won’t know, because the Atlanta bullpen was up to the task.
A.J. Minter and Luke Jackson kept the combined no-hitter (which, for my money, isn’t a no-hitter if we’re being totally honest with each other) going into the eighth inning when Tyler Matzek gave up a leadoff single to Aledmys Díaz. Díaz was replaced by pinch-runner Jose Siri. Jason Castro struck out and Altuve popped out, and with Brantley up to bat, Siri stole second and then got to third on a throwing error from Travis d’Arnaud. With the tying run on third, Matzek got Brantley to pop out to end the threat.
Will Smith came on in the top of the ninth to close the door, and aside from a leadoff single from Bregman, did just that. Matzek was the one who really summed it up in his postgame interview: “Night shift’s ready.”
For the offense, d’Arnaud made up for the throwing error in the top of the eighth with a long solo home run to dead center in the bottom of that same inning. Yeah, there’s d’Arnaudoubt about that one:
Now, I have to close out this recap with some stats that feel like a real Careful, Icarus! moment and I apologize in advance to any Atlanta fans who may be reading this, but:
How big is that win?
The Game 3 winner in a best-of-7 postseason series tied 1-1 has gone on to win the series 66 of 96 times (69%)
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 30, 2021
Let’s hope that nice percentage holds up for Atlanta.
(Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)