Ian Anderson — no, not the leader of Jethro Tull, the one who pitches for the Atlanta Braves — and the Braves bullpen held the Houston Astros to two hits in Game Three of the 2021 World Series. At the same time, the Braves offense provided sufficient support to win two to nothing in front of a delirious, albeit drizzle-drenched, home crowd Friday night. The Braves lead the series two games to one.
The Braves first run came in the third inning off Astros starter Luis Garcia. After Eddie Rosario started the inning by drawing a walk, Freddie Freeman sharply singled to center, with Rosario stopping at second. One out later, Austin Riley smoked a hot grounder down the left field line that ticked off Houston third baseman Alex Bregman’s glove and kept going, Rosario scoring standing up. The Braves looked set for a big inning with Riley at second and Freeman at third with only one out, but Garcia retired the next two batters to keep the game at one to nothing.
Anderson, whose importance had already risen past his existing place in the pre-Series announced three-man Atlanta starting pitcher rotation when Charlie Morton suffered a broken leg in Game One, was near perfect in his five innings of work, allowing no hits and three walks. The Braves bullpen maintained the wiffenpoof pace, with the Astros not getting their first base hit until the eighth inning when pinch hitter Aledmys Diaz singled off of Tyler Matzek. Jose Siri, who pinch ran for Diaz, eventually made his way to third via a steal and throwing error by Atlanta catcher Travis d’Arnaud, but went no further. d’Arnaud atoned for his top of the inning mistake by homering in the bottom half of the frame, thus picking a most opportune time to hit his first home run at home in 2021. The Astros eked out another single to lead off the ninth but were shut down after that by Will Smith, who earned the save.
Before the game, a video tribute to the late Hank Aaron culminated in his widow Billye saluted with a lengthy standing ovation. Hank and Billye’s son Hank Jr. threw the ceremonial first pitch.
Game Four, scheduled for tomorrow night, will have starting pitchers Zach Greinke for Houston opposing an as-yet unannounced pitcher for Atlanta. It had been initially believed tomorrow would be a bullpen game for the Braves, with a rotation of pitchers coming in for one or at most two innings before giving way to the next. However, there is the possibility that Tucker Davidson, who was in Atlanta’s starting rotation at the beginning of the season before going on the shelf for much of the season with arm issues, will start. Davidson has taken Morton’s place on the Braves roster.
The game will also have a unique visitor, as President Trump will be in attendance. The President will have a private suite for the game, doubtless to the relief of the Secret Service agents in attendance as it will make their job easier. It will be interesting to see if Trump is introduced to the crowd and what kind of reception he will receive from the fans should this take place. (Wouldn’t a rousing round of “let’s go Brandon” be sweet?) Also of interest will be if Trump and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred meet one another, as Trump was openly critical of Manfred’s decision to move this year’s MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver following the passage of Georgia’s voting reform law.
Game Four starts at 8:09 PM EDT. The predicted weather at game time is cloudy with occasional showers, with temperatures in the mid 50s.