Atlanta Braves defeat the Houston Astros in first World Series bid since ’99

As the 2021 MLB season came to a close, the season was capped off by the 117th World Series. The National League champions Atlanta Braves defeated the American League Houston Astros.

Pitcher Framber Valdez took the mound for the Astros while former Astro Charlie Morton started for the Braves. 

Braves star Jorge Soler, who was traded from Kansas City earlier in the season, led off the series with an absolute moonshot to deep left for a 1–0 Atlanta lead in the first.

Ozzie Albies knocked a one-out single that was followed by a double from Austin Riley. The Braves ignited their offense early, leading 2–0. 

The Astros loaded the bases in the bottom of the first but Morton managed to pull the Braves out of danger by having Astros star Kyle Tucker ground out. 

The Braves struck again in the top of the second, making the game 3-0 on a fielder’s choice. Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman then singled while Albies managed to beat out what should have been a routine ground ball. They looked to add some insurance but Valdez struck out Riley, bringing the first half of the inning to a close. 

In the top of the third, Eddie Rosario singled, followed by a two-run shot from Adam Duvall, making it 5–0, Braves. Valdez left the game after a long 52 pitches. 

Morton left the game in the bottom of the third after he had been limping around on his leg. Turns out, he had been pitching on a broken leg that was caused by a comebacker from Yuli Gurriel

Morton pitched 16 more balls on the injury. He retired the next three batters he faced, striking out two. He would go on to miss the rest of the World Series. Braves pitcher A. J. Minter was brought into the game after Morton’s exit. 

Astros’ left fielder Michael Brantley knocked a double to right, but Minter went on to retire the next two batters to put an end to the inning. Next inning, Tucker smacked a one-out double and advanced to third. Gurriel then singled with one out and scored on a fielder’s choice, making the game 5–1. 

In the top of the eighth, after three scoreless innings, Braves’ short-stop Dansby Swanson walked. He then made it to third on a single by Soler and scored on a sacrifice fly by Freeman. This extended Atlanta’s lead to 6–1. 

In the bottom of the eighth, Yordan Álvarez hit a triple. He then scored on a groundout by Astros’ short-stop Carlos Correa, making the game 6–2. Braves’ closer Will Smith came in the bottom of the ninth to shut things down for the Braves, allowing the Braves to take a 1-0 series lead.

Heading into the second game, Atlanta added pitcher Tucker Davidson to their roster to replace Morton. Max Fried started for the Braves and José Urquidy started for the Astros. 

In the bottom of the first, José Altuve doubled and advanced to third on a flyout by Brantley. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Bregman, giving Houston a 1–0 lead. 

In the top of the second, Atlanta tied the game, 1–1, from a solo home run to left field by Travis d’Arnaud.

In the bottom of the second, the Astros hit three singles in a row, retaking the lead, 2–1. With runners on first and second, Martín Maldonado drove a base hit, letting another Astro cross home plate. 

Braves left fielder Rosario tried to throw out José Siri advancing from first to third, but no one was there, resulting in an error charged to him. This allowed Siri to score and make it 4–1. Brantley then singled, making the game 5-1. 

With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Freeman sent an RBI single to left, scoring d’Arnaud and slicing the Astros’ lead to 5–2. 

Houston extended to a 6–2 in the sixth on a fielder’s choice that let Álvarez score. Their final run came in the bottom of the seventh inning when Altuve hit a home run on the first pitch he saw from Drew Smyly. The Astros won the game 7-2. Heading to Atlanta, the series was tied one apiece. 

Pitchers Ian Anderson and Luis García started game 3 for the Braves and the Astros respectively. 

After two and a half scoreless innings, the Braves scored on an RBI double by Riley that let Rosario score. García was relieved after 3 and ⅔ innings, having allowed one run on three hits.

Anderson allowed no hits while striking out four in five innings. The Astros couldn’t seem to muster up any offense through seven innings. Minter and Luke Jackson did not allow anything during the sixth and seventh innings.  

Tyler Matzek came in the eighth for the Braves and allowed a bloop single to Aledmys Díaz, who was replaced by José Siri. With two outs, Siri stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by d’Arnaud but was left stranded as Brantley flew out. 

d’Arnaud hit a solo home run in the bottom of the inning to extend the Braves’ lead to 2–0. Will Smith, Atlanta’s lights-out closer, pitched the top of the ninth inning. 

He allowed a single to Bregman and then retired the next three batters. This gave Atlanta a 2–1 lead in the series.

Zack Greinke started game 4 for Houston, while Dylan Lee acted as an opener for Atlanta in his first MLB start, ever.

In the top of the first, Lee allowed a hit to José Altuve and issued two walks and recorded one strikeout. He was relieved by Kyle Wright. Altuve scored on a ground out by Correa to give the Astros an early 1–0 lead. 

In the top of the fourth, Altuve hit a home run to extend the Astros’ lead, 2–0. Greinke exited the game after four innings, allowing nothing to come of the Braves’ offense. As the bottom of the sixth came around, Atlanta had runners at first and second base with one out. 

Astros’ reliever Phil Maton entered, who struck out Albies and allowed a hit to Riley that scored a run. An intentional walk to Joc Pederson then loaded the bases with two outs. Maton struck out d’Arnaud to end what could’ve turned into an ugly situation for Houston. Back-to-back home runs by Swanson and Soler off of Cristian Javier in the bottom of the seventh put Atlanta ahead, 3–2. 

After a scoreless eighth inning, Smith entered to pitch the top of the ninth. He retired three in a row for his second save in two days. Atlanta took a 3–1 lead in the series. 

Game 5 was led off by a ceremonial first pitch by former Brave Greg Maddux. Valdez started for Houston again while Tucker Davidson started for Atlanta.

Duvall hit a grand slam for Atlanta with two outs in the bottom of the first, putting them ahead 4-0 very quickly. The Astros scored two runs in the second inning, with an RBI double from Bregman and a sacrifice fly by Maldonado. 

Houston scored two more times during the third, making it a 4–4 tie game. A home run by Freeman in the second half of the inning put Atlanta on top once more, 5–4. 

Managers from both sides brought in relief pitchers early. The Astros tied the game in the fifth inning when Maldonado walked while the bases were loaded. Marwin González piled on some insurance to help the Astros to a 7–5 lead. 

The Astros scored one more run in the seventh on a single from Maldonado. A run in the eighth on a single from Correa made it 9–5. Kendall Graveman threw the final two innings for Houston. He saved the four-run lead as they avoided elimination. With the Braves up in the series, 3-2, the teams were headed back to Houston for game 6. 

Game 6 starters included the likes of Houston pitcher Luis García and Fried of Atlanta. The Braves took a 3–0 lead in the top of the third by a towering Soler home run. Garcia exited after the blast, having pitched 2 and ⅔ innings. He managed to strike out three. 

A two-run home run from Swanson in the bottom of the fifth followed by a walk then a two-out double from Freeman extended the Braves’ lead to 6–0. Freeman also hit a home run in the top of the seventh to make it 7–0. 

Tyler Matzek entered to relieve Fried in the bottom of the seventh. Fried allowed no runs in six innings. Smith was brought in once more to pitch the bottom of the ninth. 

Smith allowed a leadoff single to Brantley and retired the next three. The last out of the game was Yuli Gurriel, who grounded out to Swanson, letting the Braves take home the win. Soler won the MVP award for the series.