John “JJ” Misiewicz
The Atlanta Braves are officially the 2021 World Series Champions, defeating the Houston Astros in six games; just as former major leaguer Trevor Plouffe predicted on March 31st, earlier this year. Though the brow-beaten city of Atlanta can finally celebrate after years of despair and misery, the real celebration comes from the rest of the league, who have collectively and unanimously expressed, and likely will express for many future years, a deep disdain for the Astros organization following their well-publicized cheating scandal.
Game 1 was full of Atlanta attacking Astro pitching early, with Jorge Soler, who went on to win World Series MVP, hitting a leadoff home run to start the game. The Braves started off strong as they scored five runs in the first three innings, forcing Astros starter Framber Valdez out of the game in the process. The flurry of runs paired with a strong Atlanta bullpen gave the Braves the first win of the series, winning 6-2. Despite them getting the win, at the start of the second inning, Astros’ player Yuli Gurriel hit a hard ground ball that hit Braves’ starting pitching Charlies Morton in the leg. Morton kept on pitching and would get the next two outs of the inning as well as the first out of the third before finally having to exit the game. When he went back to the medical staff upon leaving the game, it was determined that he had broken his leg. A huge, demoralizing loss for the Braves which cast doubt for the rest of the series despite their lead.
The loss of their ace seemed to get to the Braves in Game 2, which went very similar to Game 1 however, it was the Astros who attacked in bunches. That deadly Astro lineup got to Atlanta starter Max Fried early, who pitched five innings, but gave up six of the seven runs the Astros scored. It was the bottom of the second where the Astros broke away, scoring four runs in the inning, and capitalizing on a rare defensive blunder by the Braves. Jose Urquidy put up a good start for the Astros, going five innings himself while only surrendering two runs and striking out seven, relieving some stress for the bullpen in the process, as they kept the Braves to two runs for the rest of the game. 7-2 Astros, Series tied 1-1.
In Game 3, Atlanta capitalized on being at home for the first time in the series. Braves’ starting pitcher Ian Anderson had a no-hitter through five innings against an Astros’ team who finished top 5 in the regular season categories such as hits, doubles, home runs and on-base plus slugging. The Braves bullpen would take the no-hitter into the eighth inning, when Aledmys Diaz pinch hit for catcher Martin Maldonado and got a single. The Braves did enough offensively to get the win. With Austin Riley’s RBI double in the third, and a Travis d’Arnaud solo home run in the eighth. The Braves kept the lead, and only allowed two hits from the entire Houston lineup. Through the exceptional play of a few key players, the Braves were able to get back on track after a rough Game 2 and win 2-0, leading the series 2-1 after 3.
Game 4 could have looked very different if the Astros had capitalized on their bases loaded opportunity in the first inning. With full bases and one out, Houston shortstop Carlos Correa managed to drive one in. However, right after, outfielder Kyle Tucker would strike out to end the inning. Those proved to be important runs left stranded. Despite the Astros having a 2-0 lead going into the sixth inning, Atlanta’s Austin Riley hitting an RBI single and both Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler, who was pinch-hitting for reliever Tyler Matzek, hitting back-to-back solo home runs were just enough as relievers Luke Jackson and Will Smith would shut Houston bats down and put the Braves in a dominating position. 3-2 Braves, Atlanta leads 3-1.
With their backs against the wall, the Astros responded with a solid outing. After another rocky start for Framber Valdez, who gave up five runs in 2 and 2/3 innings, the game sat at 5-4 led by Atlanta into the 5th inning but after continuously solid batting, it would quickly turn into a big lead for the Astros. Martin Maldonado, who is known for being a defensive wizard behind the plate, drove in three runs for Houston. It was a 9-5 game going into the bottom of the eighth when Astros midseason acquisition Kendall Graveman came and locked it down for the next two innings, cutting Atlanta’s series lead to 1 game.
However, in Game 6, the Braves would not let the chance of elimination pass them by again. Atlanta starter Max Fried pitched six innings of shutout baseball and had six strikeouts. The run scoring started in the 3rd inning when Jorge Soler hit his third home run of the series off Luis Garcia. From there, the Astros never recovered as home runs from Swanson and Freddie Freeman allowed the Braves to cruise their way to the win 7-0, and an unconventional, unlikely world title.
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