Braves lean on Anderson, paddock against Astros to take World Series lead – .

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Braves lean on Anderson, paddock against Astros to take World Series lead – .


TORONTO – Give credit to Ian Anderson. Making the first start of his World Series career against an elite offensive team in bad weather, he held the Houston Astros without a hitting in five scoreless innings.
But other than the total, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker had a decision to make after five. With a 1-0 lead to protect and the World Series tied 1-1, he could ask Anderson to put zeros a little longer. Considering that Atlanta will likely use reliever box games on Saturday and Sunday, there was certainly good reason to push Anderson for an extra innings or two.

At the same time, the top of the powerful Houston formation arrived for the third time and Anderson struggled to locate himself, with three walks allowed and almost as many balls pitched (37) as strikes (39). With 76 shots pitched in just five innings, the odds of him reaching ninth were slim at best. And once you recognize that no hitting just happens, it immediately becomes easier to see the reasons to move on, especially when an effective Atlanta reliever pen comes out of a full day. rest.

Eventually Snitker, 66, went to the bullpen. Analytics rather than tradition? Perhaps it was simply urgency rather than passivity. Whatever you call it, the move worked as relievers AJ Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith combined for four scoreless innings en route to an Atlanta 2-0 win at Truist Park.

Whether this aggressive use of the bullpen costs Snitker later in the series is another question. For now, Atlanta has a 2-1 lead in the series. Now for a few more observations after World Series Game 3…

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

When pinch hitter Aledmys Diaz led the start of the eighth inning with a shallow left field pop-up, it looked like the first outing of the inning. The numbers would confirm this, as the pop-up had an 85% probability of capture, according to Baseball Savant.

But left fielder Eddie Rosario stopped, perhaps anticipating shortstop Dansby Swanson would make the play, and the ball fell. Put aside the fact that it was the first hit of the game. No hitting teams are cool, but it’s the World Series.

Far more important was the cost of letting Houston’s first hitter reach the top of the coming order and just a one point lead. Rosario had to charge that ball more aggressively, call it and dive, knowing that Swanson would be there to make sure the game stayed under control if he missed.

Instead, this year’s NLCS MVP put his team in a tough position with some defensive play left behind. For a while it looked like Rosario’s spread could prove costly, as pinch runner Jose Siri reached third base, but Matzek continued his incredible October by recording one strikeout and two pops. -ups. Problem avoided.

A NEW LAND

Speaking of defense on the pitch, the Astros have made some notable changes to ensure they put together their most dangerous roster possible. Whenever possible, the Astros prefer to face Yordan Alvarez at DH, but with the World Series moving to Atlanta, the 24-year-old has had to play left field with Michael Brantley moving to right field and Kyle Tucker moving to center.

That’s far from ideal considering Alvarez, 24, had surgery on both knees last year, but when you have an elite hitter who has scored 33 times in the regular season to do even better in the playoffs? He plays. It might sound like David Ortiz wearing a first baseman’s glove, but like those powerful Red Sox teams, the Astros made it work.

Perhaps predictably the very first Atlanta hitter to test Alvarez at bat. Rosario threw a flying ball into the territory along the left field line and Alvarez approached only to get up, dropping a playable ball and allowing Rosario to continue hitting (he then struck out). But Alvarez caught a few routine balls and Tucker did better than that, making a huge diving catch to deprive Rosario of a hit and end the sixth inning.

A SENSOR IS IN PLACE

With one of baseball’s best offensive infields and a productive outfield that GM Alex Anthopoulos essentially acquired on the fly at the trade deadline, it was easy to overlook the catching position in discussions about the offensive depth of this Atlanta team. Three games in the World Series, Travis d’Arnaud changes that quite quickly.

After a breakout attacking season in 2020, he slowed to plate during the 2021 regular season while missing a considerable time with a thumb injury. Yet so far this world series he again looks like an offensive difference maker. He now has five hits in 12 batting against the Astros, including two homers, including the second he hit in the eighth inning on Friday to give Atlanta a valuable insurance run.

The 32-year-old also doubled up, giving Atlanta a welcome production from seventh place in their batting order.

A LOOK AT THE FUTURE

The last time Atlanta won a World Series game at home was in 1995, and at that point it would have been inconceivable that a Game 4 pitching match was yet to be determined versus TBD with less. 24 hours before the first throw. But there is no Maddux, Glavine or Smoltz behind the scenes for either team.

Part of this is due to injuries, as Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr., Charlie Morton and Mike Soroka are all sidelined. And in part? We’re just seeing an era of baseball where even old-school managers show little reluctance to mix and match – even when that means hitting your starter halfway through a no-hit offer.

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