2021 World Series
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|2021 World Series|
88 - 73 in the AL
|4 - 2
95 - 67 in the NL
The 2021 World Series featured an unprecedented match-up - at this level - between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. In fact, teams from the two cities had never previously met for a major championship in any sport. Of course, the two teams had been long-time rivals in the NL West from 1969 to 1993, and had met a number of times in postseason series in the National League before the Astros had moved to the American League in 2013. It was the third trip to the World Series in five years for the Astros, who had won the whole thing in 2017, but for the Braves, it was a first appearance since 1999, and their most recent win had come in 1995. Astros manager Dusty Baker, at age 72, was back for his second World Series 19 years after leading the San Franciso Giants in the 2002 World Series, the second longest-ever gap between appearances in the Fall Classic. With the Braves Brian Snitker being 66, it was the oldest pair of managers ever in a World Series.
The Braves, in spite of winning just 66 games in the regular season, ended their championship drought by winning the series, 4 games to 2, in spite of losing their best pitcher, Charlie Morton early in Game 1. The managed to work through a couple of bullpen games and used the strategically-timed home run ball as their main weapon in winning the series. Jorge Soler, who three of these long balls, including one in the clincher, was named the World Series MVP.
Astros The Astros were playing in the World Series for the third time in five years, having won in 2017 and lost in 2019, with both series going the distance. However, that was under manager A.J. Hinch, and before the sign-stealing scandal dating back to the 2017 season had come to light shortly after their loss in 2019. This had led to veteran Dusty Baker replacing the suspended and then fired Hinch, and to the Astros becoming the most reviled team in baseball by opposing fans.
The Astros' biggest strength was that they had the best offense in baseball, and a well-balanced one at that, with six hitters collecting 145 or more hits and 8 being in double figures in homers. They led the American League in runs, batting average and OBP, and were third in slugging percentage. A sign of how deep the line-up was was that batting champion 1B Yuli Gurriel usually hit 7th, with a .319 average, 15 homers and 81 RBIs. Other key players were lead-off hitter 2B Jose Altuve, whose .278 average was below his lofty standards, but not his 31 homers and 117 runs. SS Carlos Correa had scored 104 runs with 26 homers and 92 RBIs and DH Yordan Alvarez had 92 runs, 33 homers and 104 RBIs. And that's not speaking of RF Kyle Tucker, with 30 homers and 92 RBIs or LF Michael Brantley who batted .311. 3B Alex Bregman failed to put up such big numbers only because an injury limited him to 91 games. There was one big black hole, though, C Martin Maldonado, who had batted just .172 during the season and was there solely due to his defensive contributions. In fact, there were a number of excellent defenders on this team, including the entire infield of Altuve, Correa and Bregman, and rookie CF Chas McCormick in addition to Maldonado. The one injury was to OF Jake Meyers, who had shared the CF job with McCormick until hurting his shoulder in the Division Series; he was dropped from the roster, replaced by Marwin Gonzalez.
In pitching terms, the Astros were relying on some youngsters with former ace Justin Verlander having missed the season due to injury, veteran Zack Greinke being relegated to a support role after a so-so season, and Lance McCullers, their ace during the season, having been pushed to the sidelines by shoulder fatigue and unlikely to be available during the series. So the Astros would rely on 27-year-old Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14), 24-year-old Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.30) and 26-year-old Jose Urquidy (8-3, 3.62), with Cristian Javier (4-1, 3.55) possibly available to start if McCullers (13-5, 3.16) wasn't. The bullpen's back end of Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly was excellent, although middle relievers Ryne Stanek, Brooks Raley, Josh Taylor, Phil Maton and Yimi Garcia were more vulnerable. The Astros had been able to overcome the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS because Garcia and Valdez had both pitched deep in their final starts, and Dusty Baker was hoping for more of the same.
Braves The Braves had the worst record among the 10 teams who made the postseason, at 88-73, well behind teams that failed to make it like the Toronto Blue Jays or Seattle Mariners, so they were not favorites to reach the World Series, to say the least. However, there were some extenuating circumstances, the most important being that their entire starting outfield on Opening Day was gone: RF Ronald Acuna, who was having an MVP-type season until he went down with a season-ending injury just before the All-Star break; LF Marcell Ozuna had been lost to allegations of domestic violence; and CF Cristian Pache had failed to hit and had been sent down after a few weeks. GM Alex Anthopoulos had addressed the issue aggressively, acquiring four experienced outfielders during the month of July: Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario; all four had been key contributors, and the Braves, who did not cross the .500 mark for the first time until August 6th, when they were 56-55, ended the season strong.
The Braves' principal asset was their infield of 1B Freddie Freeman, 2B Ozzie Albies, SS Dansby Swanson and 3B Austin Riley. In contrast to the outfielders, all four had played 155 or more games, and all four had hit 25 or more homers (Swanson had the lowest total, at 27). And they were all solid defensive players too. As mentioned, the four recently acquired outfielders had all hit well, with Adam Duvall ending up the surprise National League leader in RBIs at 113, Rosario being the MVP of the NLCS, and Pederson contributing some key homers in both series while becoming a bit of a folk hero thanks to his choice of jewelry (a string of pearls). Like the Astros, the big hole was at catcher, where Travis d'Arnaud had hit just .220 with 7 homers and his poor throwing arm had been ruthlessly exploited by opposing baserunners so far this postseason.
On the mound, the Braves relied on one savvy veteran in Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.34), who had pitched in previous World Series with both the Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays, and two home-grown youngsters in Max Fried (14-7, 3.04) and Ian Anderson (9-5, 3.58), both of whom had plenty of postseason experience already. The Braves had wanted to use Huascar Ynoa as a fourth starter in the NLCS, but he had been sidelined with an injury, so they were likely to turn to Drew Smyly (11-4, 4.48) if the need arose. The Braves had a solid and deep bullpen, led by closer Will Smith with 37 saves, two excellent left-handed set-up men in A.J. Minter and Tyler Matzek and a right-handed one in Luke Jackson (although the Los Angeles Dodgers had hit him hard in the previous round), and an experienced long man in Jesse Chavez. Digging deeper, Jacob Webb, Chris Martin and Dylan Lee were not pitchers Brian Snitker would want to use in any high-leverage situation, similar to Houston's secondary relievers.
- Chris Conroy, Tom Hallion (crew chief), Dan Bellino, Ted Barrett, Mike Muchlinski and Alfonso Marquez. Ron Kulpa sat out Game 1, then came in as the home plate umpire for Game 2, with the umpire scheduled to work home plate in the next game sitting out in turn.
|1||Atlanta Braves 6 Houston Astros 2||October 26||Charlie Morton (0-0) Framber Valdez (0-1)||8:05 pm|
|2||Atlanta Braves 2 Houston Astros 7||October 27||Max Fried (0-1) Jose Urquidy (1-0)||8:05 pm|
|3||Houston Astros 0 Atlanta Braves 2||October 29||Luis Garcia (0-1) Ian Anderson (1-0)||8:05 pm|
|4||Houston Astros 2 Atlanta Braves 3||October 30||Zack Greinke (0-0) Dylan Lee (0-0)||8:05 pm|
|5||Houston Astros 9 Atlanta Braves 5||October 31||Framber Valdez (0-1) Tucker Davidson (0-0)||8:05 pm|
|6||Atlanta Braves 7 Houston Astros 0||November 2||Max Fried (1-1) Luis Garcia (0-2)||8:05 pm|
Game 1 @ Minute Maid Park
|WP: A.J. Minter (1-0); LP: Framber Valdez (0-1)|
|Home Runs: ATL - Jorge Soler (1), Adam Duvall (1)|
- Attendance: 42,825
Game 1 quickly showed its character as the Braves took a lead on Astros starter Framber Valdez's third pitch, and never looked back. Valdez had been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher so far this postseason, marrying a very poor first start against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS with a very strong second one; unfortunately for the Astros the start in today's game was like the first, and he did not complete three innings, leaving with a 5-0 deficit. For the Astros, veteran Charlie Morton had to work hard in the 1st, but seemed to have found his rhythm when he was struck on the leg by a ball off the bat of Yuli Gurriel in the 2nd. At first this appeared like an unremarkable play that would leave nothing more than a bruise, but he had in fact broken a bone and had to leave after one out in the 3rd, his postseason over. So while this win was in the bank for the Braves, there would be questions down the road about who would fill Morton's huge shoes. There was no surprise in the starting line-ups, with the Braves using the fourth of the outfielders they had acquired in July, Jorge Soler, as their DH and lead-off hitter, and he set the tone for the game. Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio threw the ceremonial first pitch.
As mentioned, the Braves got off to a quick start: Valdez's first two pitches to Soler were balls, and on the third, he hit a home run to left-center field for a 1-0 lead. It was the first time in the 117 editions of the World Series that the first batter of the series had homered. After a first out, Ozzie Albies pushed a ball in no man's land between the mound and third base and while Valdez fielded it, he had no chance of retiring the speedy Albies who received credit for an infield single. He then stole second base and scored when Austin Riley hit a double to center. Valdez managed to retire the next two batters, but he was already down, 2-0. In his last start, against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, Morton had struggled with his control in the 1st inning, walking four batters, so there was some concern about doing the same thing against the hard-hitting Astros. he started off by striking out Jose Altuve, but then gave up a single to right to Michael Brantley, who advanced to second on a ground out by Alex Bregman. Morton then walked the dangerous Yordan Alvarez to put a second runner on base, and threw a wild pitch while walking Carlos Correa as well. The Astros could have got back in this game there and then, but Kyle Tucker grounded to Albies at second base to end the inning, as Morton escaped without any damage. In the 2nd, Travis d'Arnaud and Joc Pederson led off with back-to-back singles and Dansby Swanson, batting 9th, send a pitch to the warning track, where CF Chas McCormick caught it with his back touching the fence. Both runners advanced 90 feet and d'Arnaud scored when Soler hit a ground ball to SS Correa. Pederson was caught between second and third on the play, the result of some poor baserunning, while Soler made it safely to first. Valdez continued to struggle, walking Freeman and allowing an infield single to Albies, before escaping by striking out Riley. It was now 3-0, and the Braves were all over the Astros' starter.
At first glance, the bottom of the 2nd inning appeared to be a routine one for Morton. The first batter, Gurriel, hit a ball that glanced off his leg towards 1B Freeman, who beat the runner to the bag, McCormick struck out swinging and Martin Maldonado hit a line drive right at Freeman for the third out. The first sign of trouble was that the Braves started warming up a couple of pitchers during their next turn at bat, A.J. Minter and Jesse Chavez, while Morton left the dugout for a time. It was clear that something was going on, and looking back at Gurriel's at-bat, it became clear that the ball had hit him harder than appeared at first. But it just looked like a bone bruise, given Morton had been able to complete the inning with no apparent ill-effects. Meanwhile, the Braves were continuing to pound Valdez, as Eddie Rosario led off with a single and Adam Duvall followed with a laser beam into the left field stands that was over the fence in an instant for a two-run homer and a 5-0 lead. That was it for Valdez. Yimi Garcia replaced him and retired the next three batters. Morton did come out for the 3rd and struck out the first batter he faced, Altuve, but on strike three, he landed in obvious pain and was limping. He was immediately taken out of the game and x-rays performed on site quickly revealed that he had a fracture - and had therefore faced three batters in that condition, retiring all three, in an incredible display of gamesmanship. That meant that he was not only out of the game, but for the remainder of the World Series as well. In the meantime, Minter came in, and started what would be for him a long stint by giving up a double to Brantley before retiring Bregman on a grounder to third and Alvarez on strikes.
Only a third of the game had been played at that point, but it seemed like a full game's worth of action had been packed in that short time, and that the rest of the evening would be a lot less weighty. The fact that the Astros sent in Jake Odorizzi to pitch was a clear sign: normally their fifth starter, his sole role in the postseason was to give his team some innings in games that had already been decided, in order to spare more important hurlers, so his presence sent a clear message. Indeed, the game settled down as Odorizzi struck out three of the four men he faced in the 4th, the other, Albies, reaching on an error charged to 1B Gurriel, although it's not clear that he would have had a play on the speedy runner even if he had not bobbled the ball. The Braves did score in the bottom of the inning, but only one run. It started with a one-out double by Tucker and a single by Gurriel that put runners on the corners. McCormick hit a ball straight at SS Swanson that looked like a potential double play, but Swanson misplayed it by placing his bare hand in front of his glove; the ball touched his hand and ended up behind him, with Tucker scoring and Gurriel going to third. However, Minter limited the damage by striking out Maldonado, and then getting Altuve to hit a soft blooper that he caught himself in what could have been a key plate appearance. Both teams then went down in order in the 6th, then in the 7th Swanson singled with one out, prompting Dusty Baker to replace Odorizzi with Phil Maton. He completed the inning, and Luke Jackson bounced back from a tough couple of outings in the NLCS by pitching the bottom of the 7th without giving up a run. In the 7th, Ryne Stanek got d'Arnaud to bounce into an inning-ending double play when the Braves were threatening, and Jackson and Tyler Matzek split a scoreless inning in the bottom of the frame.
Both teams scored once in the 8th, although this did not really affect the outcome of the game, which had already been decided. For the Braves, the run came on a walk to Swanson, a single by Soler and a sacrifice fly by Freeman against new pitcher Brooks Raley, and for the Astros it was a triple by Alvarez followed by a ground out by Correa. With two outs, Gurriel thought he may have hit a home run, but a review showed that the ball bounced back on the field, and to make things worse Gurriel had been thrown out at second by Rosario. In the 9th, after the Braves went down in order, closer Will Smith came in to preserve the four-run lead. He walked the lead-off man, pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz, but then got the Astros to hit three consecutive ground balls to end the game. The Braves had won the first game, but questions were looming about how they would handle pitching assignments going forward, given the loss of their best pitcher.
Game 2 @ Minute Maid Park
|WP: Jose Urquidy (1-0); LP: Max Fried (0-1)|
|Home Runs: ATL - Travis d'Arnaud (1); HOU - Jose Altuve (1)|
- Attendance: 42,833
The Astros turned the tables on the Braves in Game 2, by being the ones who scored a bunch of early runs and then coasted to a relatively easy victory. They key was a four-run 2nd inning in which there were no hard-hit balls against Braves starter Max Fried, but a lot of soft hits that found holes, and some lackadaisical defensive play that compounded the problem. After having been pounded in his previous postseason start, Jose Urquidy threw five solid innings to earn the win, and Fried himself pitched as long, in spite of the early runs, as both managers were mindful of not asking too much of their bullpens after what had transpired the night before. There was only one change to the starting line-ups, with Jose Siri replacing Chas McCormick in center field for Houston, although Atlanta did move some batters around. Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell threw the ceremonial first pitch, and Nelson Cruz was honored before the game as the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award.
The Braves put a couple of runners on base after two outs in the 1st on a soft roller down the third base line by Ozzie Albies and a more conventional single by Austin Riley, but they were stranded when Urquidy struck out Jorge Soler. The Astros did not miss their first opportunity to score, however, as Jose Altuve led off with a double to left then advanced to third on a fly out by Michael Brantley and scored on another fly out, by Alex Bregman. The Braves tied the score immediately when Travis d'Arnaud hit a line drive homer into the left field stands with two outs. Dansby Swanson followed with a single, but advanced no further as Eddie Rosario grounded out to end the inning. And then everything fell apart for Atlanta. Fried started the 2nd by striking out Carlos Correa, but he then allowed a single to right by Kyle Tucker, that would be the only well-hit ball of the inning. Yuli Gurriel hit what could have been an inning-ending double play, but the defensive shift which had usually been very good to the Braves during the season played against them this time as an incredulous Fried saw the ball roll untouched into center field and Tucker advance to third on the single. Siri then hit a slow tapper to second base, but 2B Albies was unable to retire anyone and it went down as an infield single, driving in the go-ahead run. Martin Maldonado, whose bat had been ice cold since the start of October, singled into left field, and then the Braves forgot to cover third base, as Rosario's throw from left field was on target but bounced into foul territory, allowing Siri to score all the way from first base and Maldonado to advance to second (Gurriel had already scored on the hit). Fried then threw a wild pitch on which even the slow-footed Maldonado could advance to third base, and after two outs Brantley singled him in for a 5-1 lead. The Astros were now in control of the game, but it is not hard to imagine a scenario in which Fried escaped the inning without allowing a run, or only a single one.
There was no more scoring over the next two innings as both starters settled down. In some other game, Fried may have been replaced after his difficult 2nd inning, but with his bullpen having had to work 6 2/3 innings the night before and his not having really been hit hard, he was left in to give his team some more innings and responded well. D'Arnaud broke the spell of consecutive outs by the two pitchers by leading the top of the 5th with a single, then with one out took second on a wild pitch and third on a ground out by Rosario. Freddie Freeman then drove him in with a single, to make the score 5-2. There was still some hope of coming back, especially after Fried made it nine straight outs by retiring the Astros in order in the bottom of the 5th. The first relief pitcher of the night was Cristian Javier, who took over for Urquidy in the 6th; he gave up a one-out double to Soler, but nothing else. Fried was still there in the bottom of the inning, but he started off by walking Yordan Alvarez and allowing a single to Correa, and was replaced by rookie Dylan Lee. Lee did his job, but once again, as in the 2nd, the defence did not cooperate. Tucker hit a grounder straight at 2B Albies, but his throw to second was a little off, and Swanson was unable to throw to first to complete a double play. Gurriel then hit another ground ball that had double play written all over it, this one to Swanson, but Albies did not catch Swanson's relay cleanly, and when it fell to the ground, all runners were safe and Alvarez had scored for a 6-2 lead. Tucker and Gurriel then pulled off a double steal, but Lee managed to strike out Siri for out number two. Jesse Chavez then came in to face Maldonado and got him to pop up to shortstop to end the inning, but now it was truly over for Atlanta.
There wasn't much to report about the final three innings, except for the 22nd postseason homer of Altuve's career, to lead off the bottom of the 7th against Drew Smyly. It increased the lead to 7-2, and it was already clear that there was no coming back from such a deficit. The Astros loaded the bases after the homer, but Smyly got out of the situation by striking out Gurriel. For Houston, Phil Maton replaced Javier with one out in the 7th, Ryan Pressly pitched the 8th and Kendall Graveman the 9th. For Atlanta, Kyle Wright, just added to the roster for the World Series after missing most of the season to an injury, struck out the side in the bottom of the 8th, giving his manager an indication that he could perhaps be tasked with some additional responsibility later on in the series.
Game 3 @ Truist Park
|WP: Ian Anderson (1-0); LP: Luis Garcia (0-1); SV: Will Smith (1)|
|Home Runs: ATL - Travis d'Arnaud (2)|
- Attendance: 42,898
Game 3 was a true pitchers' duel, even if neither of the starting pitchers went very deep. Luis Garcia for Houston allowed just 1 run in 3 2/3 innings, and Ian Anderson for Atlanta did not allow a hit in five innings before giving way to the bullpen with a one-run lead. Whether or not this was a good move will be subject to endless debate, but it did work for the Braves who nursed the no-hitter and the one-run lead into the 8th inning. The first was broken in the top of the frame on a single by pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz, and the latter was doubled in the bottom of that same inning. In the end, Atlanta won the game, 2-0, to take the lead in the series, but needed another four innings from its bullpen, which was facing back-to-back bullpen games in Games 4 and 5 following the loss of Charlie Morton in Game 1. So there were a lot of ongoing stories. It was also the first World Series game to feature pitchers hitting since 2019, so both teams had to make decisions regarding the players who had been DH'ing: Houston chose to favor offense over defence by moving Yordan Alvarez to left field, taking away its best defensive outfielder in Chas McCormick, while Atlanta sent RF Joc Pederson to the bench, replaced by DH Jorge Soler (in this case, there was no real defensive cost). Pre-game ceremonies were dedicated to the memory of Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, with his son Hank Aaron Jr. throwing the ceremonial first pitch in the presence of Aaron's widow Billye and his two sisters. It had rained all day in Atlanta, but it was down to a small but playable drizzle for the game, although the temperature was on the cold side.
Jose Altuve started off the game by drawing a walk off Anderson, but he was immediately erased when Michael Brantley hit a double play ball back to Anderson. Alex Bregman also drew a walk, as Anderson was effectively wild on the night, sometimes missing the target, but never by leaving a pitch over the plate. Alvarez then hit a fly ball to left to end the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Garcia struck out the first batter, Eddie Rosario, on a checked swing call that reminded everyone of how Wilmer Flores had been jobbed to end the Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. In that same at-bat, Rosario dropped a foul ball down the left field line that would normally have been a routine out, but in this case the Astros' very slow outfield defence, in the person of Alvarez, couldn't reach it. It didn't cost anything immediately, but it was a reminder that Houston was playing with a handicap. In any case, with two outs, Ozzie Albies drew a walk, but Austin Riley struck out to end the inning. The tone was set: there would be baserunners in this game, but not many hits and very little scoring. Anderson retired the Astros in order in the 2nd, then Atlanta got a couple of runners on with two outs, on a double by Chase d'Arnaud and an intentional walk to Dansby Swanson. That brought up Anderson to bat, and he struck out on four pitches, but the decision not to face Swanson would have repercussions, as the top of the Braves' order was now coming up in the 3rd. That came quickly as Anderson made it seven straight batters retired. Rosario drew a walk to lead off the 3rd, followed by a single by Freddie Freeman. Gracia struck out Albies for the first out, but Austin Riley followed with a sharp double to left which scored Rosario. Freeman probably could have scored as well from first base, but the Braves played it conservatively with just one out. However, they were unable to cash him in as after Soler drew a walk to load the bases, Adam Duvall popped out to 1B Yuli Gurriel in foul territory and d'Arnaud struck out. After three inning, the Braves were on top, 1-0, but had already stranded a bunch of runners.
Anderson extended his string of consecutive outs to nine before he walked Alvarez with two outs in the 4th, then hit Carlos Correa with a pitch. However, he got Kyle Tucker to hit a soft grounder back to him to end the inning. Then, the Braves threatened again in the bottom of the 4th. After two outs, Dusty Baker decided that Garcia should not get to face the Braves' hitters for a third time, which had probably been decided before the game started, so Josh Taylor came in. He gave up a single to Rosario, but he struck out Freeman to end the inning. In the 5th, Marwin Gonzalez, making his first appearance of the postseason, batted for Taylor as part of a 1-2-3 inning. Then in the bottom of the inning, with Yimi Garcia on the mound, Soler drew a two-out walk and Duvall singled, but d'Arnaud grounded out to end the inning. That's when Braves manager Brian Snitker made a momentous decision, which was to remove Anderson, who had not yet allowed a hit and had thrown just 76 pitches, with four innings still left to play. He explained after the game that Anderson was not going to pitch a complete game anyway, so he would have had to take him out, and there was that new orthodoxy of never facing batters for a third time. But one has to wonder if, in the long run, it would not have better to give Anderson one or two more innings of work, knowing that the bullpen was going to be leaned on very hard over the next two days as well. In any case, A.J. Minter was the first reliever to come out and he continued in Anderson's footsteps, getting a couple of strikeouts, but also hitting Bregman on the left ankle with two outs, likely leaving him with an ugly bruise (at least, he did not end up with a fracture like Morton, as the ball hit him in a very similar spot). In the bottom of the inning Ehire Adrianza pinch hit for Minter and grounded out, and Brooks Raley came in to face the lefty-hitting top of the Braves order, getting Rosario to fly out to center as Kyle Tucker made a nice diving catch. Six innings were now complete, the Astros did not yet have a hit, and it was still a 1-0 lead for Atlanta.
Luke Jackson was next to take the mound for the Braves, and he retired the Astros in order, as the no-hitter was now the longest by anyone in a World Series game since Jim Lonborg in Game 2 of the 1967 World Series. The Astros made another mid-inning pitching change in the bottom of the inning, going from Raley to Ryne Stanek with two outs before Austin Riley came up, but all three batters made outs. It was now up to pitcher #4 to take the baton, Tyler Matzek. Up to bat was Diaz, pinch-hitting for C Martin Maldonado, and he broke the spell with a single to left. More maneuvering ensued, with Jason Castro batting in the pitcher's spot and Jose Siri running for Diaz. Matzek struck out Castro and got Altuve to pop up. The Astros tried to provoke something by sending Siri with two outs and he made it to third base as he stole second successfully and d'Arnaud's throw bounced into center field. But Brantley popped up as well and Siri died on third base, in the words of George Moriarty, who had warned against this more than one hundred years earlier. Then the Braves gave themselves a bit of breathing room with two outs against Kendall Graveman, as the suddenly hot d'Arnaud hit his second homer of the series to center field, after not hitting a single long ball in his home ballpark all year. Closer Will Smith came in for the 9th, as Snitker's plan was unfolding exactly had he had drawn it up. He gave up a lead-off single to Bregman, but then got the next three batters to all fly out, and Bregman could not even advance to second base. Smith thus continued his string of outstanding pitching that had lasted all postseason and the Braves were 2-0 winners.
Game 4 @ Truist Park
|WP: Tyler Matzek (1-0); LP: Cristian Javier (0-1); SV: Will Smith (2)|
|Home Runs: HOU - Jose Altuve (2); ATL - Dansby Swanson (1), Jorge Soler (2)|
- Attendance: 43,125
The Braves moved within one win of the championship by coming back to take Game 4, 3-2, after being down early. The game thus featured the first - and so far only - lead change of the series, as the Astros had all the early opportunities but could only score twice, leaving 10 runners on base through the first six innings. The Braves' starter, Dylan Lee, who was only announced a few hours before game-time, set a number of records when he took the ball, becoming the first player to make his first career start in a World Series game, and the pitcher with the fewest career major league innings (2) to do so. Normally a reliever with good control, Lee was placed in the unfamiliar role of opener and was obviously nervous, walking two of the four batters he faced and allowing a hit, before being bailed out by Kyle Wright, who then proceeded to pitch very well until the end of the 5th, which begs the question of why he hadn't been asked to start in the first place. The Astros also made history of some sort with their line-up, as pitcher Zack Greinke was batting 8th, the second time in World Series history that a team's pitcher was not batting 9th (the other time had come in the 1918 World Series, when none other than Babe Ruth was on the mound). There were a couple of other changes of note: Astros back-up catcher Jason Castro had to be placed on the COVID-19 list after a positive test and was replaced on the roster by Garrett Stubbs, while Joc Pederson was back starting in right field for the Braves, putting Jorge Soler on the bench. The game served as the stage for Major League Baseball's annual participation in the "Stand Up To Cancer" campaign, and the ceremonial first pitch was given to Elizabeth O'Connor, a survivor of stage IV pancreatic cancer.
As mentioned, Dylan Lee did not seem to be at ease in the unfamiliar role he had been tasked with to open the game, and it almost cost the Braves the game. Using a short reliever to open a game was once a sign of complete desperation akin to picking the starting line-up out of a hat, and the starting pitcher for a bullpen game was derisively known as "Johnny Wholestaff". But this had changed in recent years, starting when the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers had lost top starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson down the stretch and decided to use a bullpen game every time that pitcher's turn came up, with decent enough results. This still smacked of desperation, but in 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays had made it a standard operating procedure from the start of the season, which seared itself into the public consciousness when career reliever Sergio Romo started back-to-back games in June. The Brewers, again, used the strategy during that year's postseason, and suddenly it became the thing that all the cool kids did instead of - the horror! - asking a fourth starter to start a postseason game. Carried too far, one could argue that it caused the Los Angeles Dodgers' early exit from this year's postseason, and now the Braves, who had used the strategy with some success with A.J. Minter starting a game in last year's NLCS, were the latest to adopt it. Today's instance was planned from the beginning and not a result of the injury to Charlie Morton (the quandary about who would take his turn would come up in Game 5), but one had to wonder about the choice of Lee as the starter instead of a number of other options who had actually started major league games before, or at least had more experience pitching at this level than the very raw Dylan Lee - who was not even a top prospect groomed for this type of role in the minors, since he had been picked up off waivers from the Miami Marlins in mid-April. No, the only reason to tab him was that he was a complete cypher, and perhaps the Braves would come up with a workable pitcher for at least a few outs. When one thinks about it, it's a completely ridiculous approach, and the Braves were lucky that it only partially blew up in their faces. In any case, Lee started off by giving up a single to Jose Altuve on his first pitch, then walking Michael Brantley to immediately place himself in trouble. He did manage to strike out the stone cold Alex Bregman on a foul tip, but then issued another walk, to Yordan Alvarez, to load the bases. This was Trouble with a capital T, and Brian Snitker quickly pulled his rookie starter in favor of Kyle Wright, who at least had some credentials, even if his career so far had been checkered. He was masterful in one of the most stressful situations anyone could imagine, forcing Carlos Correa to hit a slow tapper on a full count. 3B Austin Riley fielded it and had just one play, which was to throw to first base, allowing a first run to score, but recording the second out. Next up was Kyle Tucker, the Astros' most consistent run producer this postseason, and Wright struck him out, also on a full count. Houston was up, 1-0, but they could very well have broken the game open there and then.
Things were a lot less dramatic for Zack Greinke, who was actually expected to make a real start. There were some skeptics, however, as there was some speculation that his batting 8th was a sign that he would be replaced by a pinch-hitter immediately as soon as his turn to bat came up. After all, in his only other postseason start, he had gotten only three outs. He gave up a one-out single to Freddie Freeman, but otherwise was solid. In the 2nd, he hit a solid single up the middle when he came to bat with one out, and Martin Maldonado followed with a single as well. Trouble was brewing once again, but Wright retired Altuve and Brantley to escape unscathed, as the Astros left two more baserunners. In the bottom of the inning, Greinke gave up a two-out single to Adam Duvall, but nothing else. In the 3rd, Houston put two more runners on after one out, on a walk to Alvarez and a single to Correa. Wright got Tucker to ground into a force out, with Alvarez moving to third base, then after Wright fell behind 2 and 0 to Yuli Gurriel, he issued an intentional pass to the batting champ to load the bases, bringing up Greinke. He put the ball in play, but it was a routine ground ball to 2B Ozzie Albies, as the count of Astros runners left on base kept growing, with three more added to the tally. Greinke gave up another hit in the 3rd, to Eddie Rosario, but got Freeman to ground into a double play to end the inning. In the 4th, Wright gave up his only truly hard-hit ball of the evening, a one-out solo homer to center field by Altuve. It was the 23rd postseason homer of his career, giving him sole possession of second place on the all-time list behind only Manny Ramirez, who hit 29, the list being of course dominated by recent players who have had the luxury of playing three or four postseason rounds in a single year. The Astros did not strand anyone that inning and now had a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, it was Joc Pederson's turn to hit into a inning-ending double play, negating a single by Riley.
Wright was still pitching in the 5th, and he put some more runners on base before escaping. This time it was a two-out single by Tucker, who stole second and advanced to third when C Travis d'Arnaud's throw ended up in center field. Gurriel was walked intentionally for the second time, and this time Dusty Baker decided to remove Greinke, in the hope of padding his thin lead. However, Marwin Gonzalez only hit a fly ball to left and Greinke, who had been quite solid, was out of the game after four scoreless innings. He was replaced by Ryne Stanek who pitched the first clean inning of the game. Wright was scheduled to be the first batter in the bottom of the 6th, but Snitker figured that 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball were already an outstanding contribution from him, and that it was now time to ask some relievers to come in for single-inning stints. First was Chris Martin who gave up a two-out single to Brantley before getting Bregman to hit into a force-out. In the middle of the 6th, the Astros were still leading, 2-0, but had already left 10 men on base, while the Braves still had not gotten anyone as far as second base. This was about to change. Brooks Raley replaced Stanek and on his first pitch, pinch-hitter Orlando Arcia lined out to right, but Stanek was unable to retire the next two batters, both lefthanders, in what was supposed to be his principal task: the unstoppable Rosario doubled to right to become the first Brave to reach scoring position, and Freeman drew a walk. Righty Phil Maton came in to face Albies, a switch-hitter who had decided to bat righty against the unconventional Greinke; he was back to hitting on the left side facing Maton, but struck out for the second out, but Riley hit a line drive to left field. Rosario scored easily, Freeman advanced to third and Riley took a risk by heading to second on the throw home, making it barely safe by laying down on his back on the base after over-sliding the bag. Pederson was up next and drew an intentional pass to bring up d'Arnaud, who had already a couple of homers in the Series, with the sacks full. He fouled off a couple of nasty breaking balls before freezing completely on a fastball to the outside corner for strike three. It was now the Braves who had failed to make the most of a big opportunity, but they were now back in the game.
With a chance to win the game, Snitker now turned to some of his front-line relievers after having relied on second-tier pitchers for the first six innings. Tyler Matzek came out for the 7th and gave up a two-out single to Tucker, but nothing else. Now it was up to Cristian Javier to stop the Braves. He struck out Duvall, but Dansby Swanson, whose bat had been quiet so far, stopped trying to pull the ball, and after a foul down the first base line, sent a pitch to right field that barely cleared the top of the fence for a solo homer that tied the game. Lest anyone think the ball was hit softly, after bouncing back on the field, the ball rolled all the way back to the infield. The pitcher's spot was next, and it was time for Soler to come out with a bat in his hand, which he used to crush a line drive to left. Alvarez ran at full speed towards the fence but saw the ball pass just beyond his outstretched glove for another homer as he crashed hard into the boards. As pandemonium erupted in the stands, there was some concern that Alvarez had been seriously hurt, but he stayed in the game. Javier struck out the next two batters, but the damage was done: the Braves now led 3-2 and were in control with just two turns at bat left for Houston. Luke Jackson was the next pitcher and he became the first man for Atlanta to have an up and down inning, disposing of Aledmys Diaz, who had come in for Gurriel in a double switch, Maldonado and Altuve on two fly balls and a strikeout, the final out coming when LF Rosario slammed into the wall in left while hanging on the ball. In the bottom of the inning, Javier walked Albies and hit Pederson with a pitch, but then struck out d'Arnaud and got Duvall to fly out as the Braves were unable to tack on an insurance run. The Astros would now have to face closer Will Smith, who had been almost untouchable thus far. He continued in that vein, striking out Brantley, getting Bregman to pop up, and Alvarez to ground out to first. The Astros had had plenty of opportunities to win this game, but the key hit never came, and now they were facing elimination.
Game 5 @ Truist Park
|WP: Jose Urquidy (2-0); LP: A.J. Minter (1-1)|
|Home Runs: ATL - Adam Duvall (2), Freddie Freeman (1)|
- Attendance: 43,122
After back-to-back low scoring games, Game 5 saw a return of the hitters, a welcome sight especially for Astros fans, who were wondering what had happened to all of their great batters. It was a must-win game for Houston, and they managed to avert elimination and return the Series to Texas by coming back twice before finally taking the lead in the 5th, and holding on to the end for a 9-5 win. On the mound, they had Game 1 starter Framber Valdez taking another turn and facing another raw rookie for Atlanta in Tucker Davidson, the man who had replaced the injured Charlie Morton on the roster. In comparison to Game 4 starter Dylan Lee, Davidson was a grizzled veteran, since his major league experience consisted of five starts over two seasons. He did better than Lee, but not by much. In terms of line-ups, Dusty Baker decided to move slumping #3 hitter Alex Bregman down the order, pushing everyone up by one rank, while Jorge Soler was back in right field for Atlanta, after his pinch-hitting heroics of the previous day, with Joc Pederson sitting down. The ceremonial first pitch was made by a hero of the Braves last championship, in 1995, Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who sent the offering to his long-time personal catcher, Eddie Perez.
Davidson was less nervous than Lee had been in his 1st inning, as he managed to get Jose Altuve to fly out to shallow left field before walking Michael Brantley, and then got Carlos Correa, batting in Bregman's usual spot, to ground into a double play. However, it was Valdez who was out of sorts: he gave up a single to lead-off hitter Soler that evaded Bregman at third base and could have been ruled an error. After a fly out by Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies forced out Soler, but beat 2B Altuve's relay to first base to avert a double play and keep the inning alive. Austin Riley followed with a single, and when LF Yordan Alvarez made a futile throw to third base, he advanced to second. Eddie Rosario was up next and did not swing once as he drew a five-pitch walk that loaded the bases. And then Adam Duvall sent Truist Park into a frenzy when he hit Valdez's next pitch into the right field stands for a grand slam. The Braves had a 4-0 lead and things were looking real good. Valdez managed to get Travis d'Arnaud to ground out to end the inning, and was walking dejectedly towards the dugout when C Martin Maldonado went to him and pepped him up, reminding him that there were still eight innings left to play and that the team would need him to pitch a few of these even if the 1st inning had not gone as they wanted.
Indeed, the Braves bounced back immediately when Yuli Gurriel hit a one-out single and Davidson seemed to lose his way. He walked Kyle Tucker, then allowed a double to Bregman that drove in one run. Next up was Maldonado, who hit a fly ball to center field on which Tucker was able to advance, cutting the lead to 4-2. Baker then let Valdez bat for himself; he struck out to end the inning, but the Braves were back in the game. Valdez then retired the Braves in order, including Davidson who struck out on three pitches, as Snitker tempted fate by deciding to bring him back for another round. Indeed, in the 3rd, Houston took up where it left off the previous inning. Altuve hit what looked like a routine ground ball to SS Dansby Swanson, but he mishandled it for an error. Brantley then worked a walk and Davidson's evening was over. Jesse Chavez came in to pitch, but he gave up a double to Correa, the first man he faced, and the lead was down to 4-3. After Alvarez, in a deep slump, flied out, Gurriel hit a slow grounder to Swanson, whose only play was at first base, and Brantley came in to score the tying run. Atlanta's big 1st-inning lead had not even lasted two innings. Chavez then walked Tucker before he finally ended the inning by getting Bregman to fly out, but it was clearly a different Houston team than in the first two games, with their hitters getting good at-bats and putting good wood on the ball. However, the game did not remain tied for long as Atlanta's first batter of the 3rd, Freeman, hit a long homer to right field to put them back in the lead, 5-4. At 460 feet, it was the longest World Series homer ever tracked by Statcast. Valdez then walked Rosario, who again never took the bat off his shoulder, with two outs and was removed in favor of Yimi Garcia. It took a long battle with Duvall, but he got him to pop up to shortstop to end the inning.
After these early fireworks, figuratively and literally, as Duvall's blast had been celebrated by actual pyrotechnics, there was finally a quiet inning in the 4th, although Baker used a rare strategy, sending pitcher Zack Greinke to bat for Garcia with one out, figuring correctly that he would need his better pinch-hitters in more crucial situations later on. Greinke looked very much like a hitter as he crushed a pitch into right field for a single, his second hit of the series, which also doubled Alvarez's total thus far. However, his teammates were unable to advance him as A.J. Minter came in to strike out Brantley for the third out. Game 2 starter Jose Urquidy then came in to pitch for Houston, as both teams were already on their third hurler before four innings had been played. Urquidy gave up a lead-off single to d'Arnaud, and after one out, Brian Snitker elected to have Minter bat for himself, but he failed in his attempt to lay down a bunt, instead popping up to the catcher. The hitting started anew in the 5th, after this brief reprieve. Correa led off with a single, but Alvarez struck out again. Gurriel singled to put a second baserunner on, but Tucker grounded out to 1B Freeman for the second out. With first base open and two outs, the Braves decided to issue an intentional walk to Bregman to face Maldonado. He came up to bat with just one thing in mind: to draw a walk. He was standing practically on top of the plate as a nervous Minter was unable to hit the corners, walking him on five pitches on which Maldonado never swung. That forced in the tying run, and brought the pitcher's spot to bat. This time, Baker used one of his better pinch-hitters in Marwin Gonzalez, although Gonzalez had not done much of late and had been left off the roster for the first two rounds of the postseason as a result. But he came through this time, lining Minter's first pitch into left field for a two-run single. That was the end for the usually reliable Minter, who had failed miserably, turning the 5-4 lead he had inherited into a 7-5 deficit. Chris Martin replaced him and struck out Altuve to end the inning, but it was now up to Atlanta to play catch-up baseball, and the Braves would be unable to do so.
First, the Astros needed another pitcher for the bottom of the 5th and sent in Phil Maton. He gave up a hard-hit double to Riley with two outs, but then got Rosario to ground out to end the inning. In the 6th, Martin retired the Braves in order for the first time, but Maton gave his manager another good inning, working around a one-out single to d'Arnaud. Pederson pinch-hit for Martin with two outs, giving fans an opportunity to wave their strings of pearls in solidarity one final time, but he popped out to Bregman in foul territory to end the inning. Drew Smyly was the next pitcher for Atlanta, and he made the hill steeper to climb by giving up a one-out double to Tucker, after which Maldonado collected his third RBI of the evening with a two-out single. It was now 8-5, and things were looking quite bleak for the home team. They had but nine outs left to make up the three-run deficit, and Ryne Stanek immediately erased three of them with a perfect 7th. Whatever smidgen of hope remained was gone after the 8th, though, as Houston added a 9th run, on a single by Altuve, who stole second, made it to third on a ground out, and scored on a single by Correa. Kendall Graveman came out in the bottom of the inning and also retired the Braves in order, as they were no longer putting up much of a fight. Smyly had given up two runs in two innings of work already, but there was no point in using a more valuable pitcher at this time, and he was left in to pitch the 9th as well. The good news was that he retired the Braves in order; the bad news, for the Braves that is, is that Graveman did the same, ending the game by striking out Soler. The last 11 Atlanta batters had gone down in order after the 6th inning, a sign that they were already looking to Game 6.
Game 6 @ Minute Maid Park
|WP: Max Fried (1-1); LP: Luis Garcia (0-2)|
|Home Runs: ATL - Jorge Soler (3), Dansby Swanson (2), Freddie Freeman (2)|
- Attendance: 42,868
The Braves claimed their first World Series title in 26 years when they won Game 6 by a convincing 7-0 score. Once again, well-timed homers proved to be the key to victory, but this time they had the luxury of putting a true starting pitcher on the mound in Max Fried, and he delivered big time with six excellent innings during which he did not allow a run or a walk. It was probably more than manager Brian Snitker expected, and while he would likely have let him continue to pitch in a regular season game, Fried having thrown just 74 pitches, he turned to his bullpen for the final three innings and Tyler Matzek and Will Smith, his two best relievers all postseason, completed the combined shutout. Jorge Soler, who hit the first and most important of the Braves' three homers, was named the winner of the World Series MVP Award for the three long balls he hit in the series, all in key situations. For Houston, rookie Luis Garcia started off well, but lost the plot in the 3rd inning, and it was another long night for Houston's pitchers, who once again had to cover a lot of innings after the early departure of their starting pitcher; this time, they cracked, and the game was quickly out of reach. In terms of starting line-ups, Dusty Baker kept Alex Bregman in the 7th spot and had Jose Siri start in centerfield, now that he again could use the DH. For Atlanta, this meant that both Soler and Joc Pederson could start, and Snitker also moved a struggling hitter down in the order with good results, as Ozzie Albies had his best game from the 7th spot of the line-up.
Garcia was very good in the 1st inning as he retired the Braves in order, including strikeouts of Soler and Freddie Freeman. Fried had a tougher go of it, and almost had to leave the game before recording a single out: he started off by allowing an infield single to Jose Altuve. Michael Brantley followed with a slow grounder to first base. Freeman fielded it, briefly looked to second to see that he did not have a good shot at retiring Altuve, and then flipped the ball toward Fried, who was hurrying to cover the bag. However, his toss was in front of the bag, Fried had to twist his body to catch it and his foot did not touch the bag. Worse, the replay showed that Brantley did not touch the bag either, instead stepping directly on Fried's ankle in front of it. Both runners were safe, Fried was charged with an error, but somehow he suffered no ill-effects from what looked like a potentially disastrous collision. He took a few practice pitches, declared himself fit, and then seemed like a man possessed. Known as more of a soft-tosser, he threw some absolute gas at Carlos Correa, overwhelming him with a fastball timed at 99 mph, got Yordan Alvarez to hit another grounder to Freeman (this time, he touched the bag himself), and then once again dialed it up to strike out Yuli Gurriel on three pitches. The Astros had wasted a great chance to take the first lead; what they did not know was that it would also be their best chance of the game.
Garcia tossed another strong inning in the 2nd, making it six straight outs, while Fried continued his strong work, needing just 8 pitches to do the same. And the the roof caved in on the Astros in the 3rd. Albies led off with a single, then after a couple of outs, Eddie Rosario drew a walk. Soler was up next, and he hit an absolute monster of a home run that went clean out of Minute Maid Park in left field as he stood at home plate to admire the flight of the ball. This was a crushing blow if there ever was one. Garcia was immediately removed in favor of Brooks Raley, and while the Braves had learned in the previous game that a big early lead was not safe when facing the Astros, this blast had their opponents visibly shaken. Raley retired Freeman to end the inning, and Houston did try to claw back in the bottom of the inning, as Martin Maldonado, suddenly hot after his three-RBI game in Game 5, led off with a single. However, Fried got Altuve to fly out and Brantley to ground back to him to start a double play and the score was still 3-0 after three innings. Cristian Javier came in to pitch the 4th and started off with a 1-2-3 inning that gave the hometown fans some hope. Correa then led off the bottom of the 4th with a single, the third time in four innings that the Astros' lead-off hitter had got on base, but he was erased on the very next pitch when it was Alvarez's turn to ground into a double play, this one started by 2B Albies.
The Braves clinched the championship in the 5th inning, Javier's second on the mound. He got into immediate trouble by walking Albies, and moved him to second base on a wild pitch. He did strike out Travis d'Arnaud, but Dansby Swanson, who had homered off him earlier in the series, fouled off a couple of good breaking balls before jumping all over a fastball and sending it into the left field stands for a 5-0 lead. It was not as spectacular as Soler's blast, but even more damaging. Blake Taylor replaced Javier, and after a second out he walked Soler who quickly came to score on a double by Freeman, making it 6-0. It took a third pitcher, Phil Maton, to complete the inning. Meanwhile, Fried was cruising, retiring the Astros in order in the bottom of the inning, and picking up a couple more strikeouts in the process. Maton gave up a couple more hits in the 6th, but escaped without the Braves adding any runs to their tally, then Fried joined the very small company of pitchers to throw six complete innings this postseason with another scoreless inning, only marred by a two-out single by Brantley. He was ready to pitch some more, but Snitker was now counting down the outs until the championship was his, and deciding which of his stud relievers would get to rack up some of these, so that was it for Fried, who had been masterful.
The Braves added a 7th run in the 7th when, with two outs, Freeman, their longest-serving player and one of the most well-liked characters in the game, fittingly put the exclamation mark on the victory with a solo shot off Ryne Stanek. Matzek, who had been outstanding all postseason, came out for the bottom of the 7th and while he gave up a single to Alvarez - only the DH's second hit of the series, tying him with Zack Greinke - he gave up nothing else. He still had enough juice left to come back for the 8th, when he retired the Astros in order, including a couple of pinch-hitters in Aledmys Diaz and Marwin Gonzalez. Ryan Pressly set down the Braves in order in the top of the 8th and Yimi Garcia replaced him for the 9th also getting three quick outs as the Braves were no longer looking to add to the score. Will Smith, who like Matzek had been nearly untouchable at the back end of games all postseason, was given the 9th, and while it was not a save situation, he did not want to delay the ending. Brantley did manage a lead-off single, but once again, he was stranded as Correa and Alvarez both flied out, and Gurriel hit a routine grounder to Swanson at shortstop. His throw beat the runner by a wide margin and the Braves were world champions. They may not have had the best regular season record out there, but since August 1st, they had played as well as anyone, and were worthy titlists, having overcome a lot of adversity on their way to this victory.
There was a lot of talk about the tomahawk chop, the war chant used by Braves fans at home games, and whether or not it was demeaning to Native Americans, especially in light of the Cleveland Indians ditching their long-time nickname and various other offensive symbols associated with the team. Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked about it and did not acquit himself particularly well when he claimed that the chant, and the use of the tomahawk symbol, had the support of local Native Americans, as he was quickly contradicted by representatives of the National Congress of American Indians. This controversy remained a regular side bar to all stories about this World Series, all the way until the final celebrations by Braves fans.
Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos, whose aggressive work in finding outfield replacements in mid-season was key to the team's win, was unable to join his charges for on-field celebrations after the Game 6 win. He had tested positive for COVID-19 three days earlier, but had kept this quiet in order not to create a distraction. Although exhibiting no symptoms, he stayed confined at home and watched the final two games on television, not accompanying the team to Houston.
The Braves' victory parade was held in Atlanta on November 5th, starting downtown at the site of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and concluding at Truist Park. A full winner's share was worth $397,391, coming from a record player pool of $90.47 million. The Braves awarded 66 full shares and 14.25 partial shares. The losers' share was $258,373.
- "Experts pick World Series winner, MVP", mlb.com, October 26, 2021. 
- David Adler: "Why Alvarez, Rosario are so hot entering WS", mlb.com, October 24, 2021. 
- Mark Bowman:: "Braves defy odds as unreal ride ends in glory", mlb.com, November 3, 2021. 
- Mark Bowman: "'Champions forever': Braves celebrate title", mlb.com, November 5, 2021. 
- Jay Busbee: "Why an Atlanta World Series win means so much", Yahoo! Sports, November 3, 2021. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "Braves win 1st World Series title since 1995", mlb.com, November 3, 2021. 
- Zach Crizer: "Here are the 5 World Series storylines to watch as Astros and Braves face off", Yahoo! Sports, October 25, 2021. 
- Tim Dahlberg (Associated Press): "Astros are proof that cheaters really do prosper", Yahoo! Sports, October 26, 2021. 
- Sarah Langs: "He's back! 7 incredible facts on Dusty in WS", mlb.com, October 23, 2021. 
- Adam McCalvy: "Soler clears train tracks, hauls in Series MVP: Midseason acquisition powers Braves to title with 3 HRs, 1.191 OPS in WS", mlb.com, November 3, 2021. 
- Mike Petriello: "ATL-HOU position-by-position breakdown", mlb.com, October 24, 2021. 
- Mike Petriello: "6 important facts to know for World Series", mlb.com, October 26, 2021. 
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series