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The Atlanta Braves are headed back to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1999.
Clinching the NL pennant Saturday evening with a Game 6 win over the reigning champ Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2, the Braves aim to make their 16th consecutive trip to the postseason the one.
Atlanta’s 16-year streak without a World Series win marks the longest stretch a team in MLB history has made the playoffs and not won it all.
Dependable offense from Eddie Rosario all series earned the 30-year-old the NLCS MVP award. In the closing performance Saturday evening, Rosario went 2-for-3 and lifted the Braves over a tied score, 1-1, in the fourth inning with a 3-run homer.
Los Angeles was faced with a small window for a comeback opportunity in the seventh inning when they had two players on base, still down two runs. On the mound, Tyler Matzek was tasked with retaining the Braves’ lead and did just that — eventually striking out Mookie Betts to prevent a Dodgers rally and close out the inning.
The Braves’ strength in pitching Saturday was opposite of Los Angeles’ lineup of pitchers: a depleted bunch, ailed by Max Scherzer’s announcement on Friday that he would not be ready to pitch in Game 6. Atlanta was able to bank on the efforts of Matzek, fellow lefty AJ Minter, starter Ian Anderson and closer Will Smith, who shut down the remaining Dodger bats in the ninth to lock in the Braves’ World Series berth.
“This isn’t a selfish group. We all pull for each other and we’re so happy that we are a team,” AJ Minter said in a post-game interview. “I feel like what separates us from other teams: it’s the brotherhood. We love each other and that’s what’s going to get us forward going through the World Series.”
The Braves were able to celebrate their historic night before a home crowd at Truist Park. “For the first time in 22 years, the World Series will be played in Atlanta,” hailed the announcers as Braves players, led by manager Brian Snitker, gathered on the field for the ceremony.
Waiting for the Braves in the final series are the Houston Astros — an antagonized group since their contested 2017 World Series win, but never deterred in giving it all to reach the final game of the season. Houston is heading to their third World Series appearance in the last five seasons after closing out their ALCS matchup against the Boston Red Sox on Friday. The Astros also clinched their pennant in six games.
Games 1 and 2 of the 2021 World Series will be set for Minute Maid Park in Houston, starting Tuesday (Oct. 26); Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Truist; a potential Game 5 will remain in Atlanta — leaving Games 6 and 7 set for Houston, if necessary.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela