Ian Anderson and the Braves’ paddock shut down Astros to regain World Series lead


ATLANTA – The Astros have the best offense in baseball. They have visited base more often than any other club this season; they placed last in strikeout rate and first in OFFensive WAR. There have only been four games all season in which they registered two or fewer hits. If you’re looking to try and outdo them rather than overpower them, good luck, as they alternate right-handed and left-handed for the top seven hitters in the roster – no easy game to play here. Silencing those hitters is shutting down one of baseball’s most formidable, versatile, and balanced groups.

But that’s exactly what the Braves did in Game 3. On a rainy Friday night in Atlanta, they didn’t allow any hits until the eighth inning and only allowed a player to pass first base twice. Their 2-0 victory was a rare shutout for the Astros. It was also a demonstration of how dazzling this pitching staff can be and, most importantly, a decisive victory to put them at the top of the one-game series.

The night’s most scrutinized decision was Atlanta manager Brian Snitker’s call to remove starter Ian Anderson, with a draw after the fifth inning. But regardless of that choice for story, aesthetic, or narrative quality, it only meant one thing to the Astros – they had to prepare for a parade of formidable paddock arms. The Braves’ top relievers were rested after a day of traveling following them without seeing the pitch in Game 2, and Snitker was ready to use them, all of them. Houston’s night didn’t get any easier when Anderson walked away with the scorer intact. It has become more difficult. This is exactly why Atlanta chose to do it.

“We didn’t breathe a sigh of relief,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said, watching Anderson get shot. “It’s no secret that they have a good bullpen.

There were several layers to the decision to remove Anderson. Although he would not allow a touchdown, his command had been irregular all night and he had given up three walks and one RAP. He had fought several times after falling behind in the count. It was enough to make his manager a little anxious. (“It has a really good quality to limit damage when it’s not really sharp,” Snitker said, a compliment wrapped in soft criticism.) Add to that that Anderson was about to see the top of Houston’s formation for the third time – to say nothing of the fact that the goal was to win rather than see a non-hitter – and Snitker felt his call was clear.

But the same inconsistency that made Atlanta coaches nervous about the potential for an impending error had frustrated the Houston hitters. They just couldn’t get a consistent read on him.

“He was indeed wild. I mean, he had a 1 to 1 ratio between balls and hitting, and our guys never got to focus on hitting, ”said Baker. “When a guy is in the zone, out of the zone, it’s hard to focus on him.”

The Astros have struggled to work with anything all night. Their hitters looked almost uniformly lost, even in areas that are typically the team’s strengths. For example, Anderson’s best side ground is change, and Houston is better at hitting change than any baseball team. (He had a .325 weighted average against the field this year compared to a league average of .292.) Still, rather than forcing Anderson to lean a little more on his curve tonight to avoid to give them too many good looks at change. , there was nothing they could do with the pitch, and he actually ended up initiating his change Following than it usually does.

“He’s definitely tough to face,” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said. “He has three shots that are good shots, and he throws them around the edges. You have to be selective… we haven’t done a good enough job of comparing the ones we could have had tonight.

And Houston had no additional wiggle room after Anderson left. Braves relievers AJ Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith combined to allow just three base runners over the past four innings – and only one of them represented a well-hit ball. (The other two were a single bloop and a hit-by-pitch.) It’s true that Atlanta still has bullpen games scheduled for the next two days. But “we’ll deal with tomorrow tomorrow,” said Snitker, and using his best relievers after a strong performance from his starter, he won today.

The takeaway for the Braves? “My pitching team is full of crampons,” said receiver Travis d’Arnaud. “They were right over there doing throws.”

What about the Astros? “You give them all the credit tonight. They pricked their tails, ”Bregman said. “I think you just rinsed it off and moved on.” ”

More world series coverage:

Dusty Baker’s time is now
• Four riders hired to lead the charge of the Atlanta championship
• Jose Altuve resolves collapse with help from playoff legend
• Why does MLB always allow synchronized and team sanctioned racism?

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