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For the first time since 1995, the Atlanta Braves are champions. And given all the injuries and the drama in 2021, that’s quite an accomplishment.
The Braves put the finishing touch on their banner year by hammering the point home in their final game — rocking the host Houston Astros by a 7-0 count on Tuesday to capture the World Series in six games.
Ah, yes. The deciding game. It was already a baseball massacre when Freddie Freeman blasted a solo shot in the seventh inning to lift the Braves to a 7-0 lead. All seven of the Braves’ runs had come via the long ball, with Jorge Soler and Dansby Swanson each preceding Freeman with homers earlier in the night.
Adam Duvall started things off with a first-inning grand slam, quickly erasing any memories of the Braves’ Game 5 meltdown at home.
Solar, by the way, was named World Series MVP.
Freeman also had an RBI double in the fifth, a blast to left field that allowed Solar to score all the way from first.
Meanwhile, the fairly unsung pitching staff — aside from Charlie Morton, who was lost for the Series after suffering a broken leg in Game 1 — emerged as names that will forever go down in franchise lore. Along with Morton, the list includes Ian Anderson, Huascar Ynoa and Max Fried, who pitched six scoreless innings in the final game.
“The Braves’ pitching staff delivered two shutouts in six games against the Astros” noted Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Ian Anderson and four relievers combined on a shutout in Game 3.”
Of course, things didn’t turn out so rosy for the Astros. Unlike Atlanta, Houston has been dominant lately.
“The Astros have reached the World Series three times in a span of five years, a dominant run that put them among the greatest teams in the sport,” wrote Alden Gonzalez of ESPN. “But they have come away with only one title, in 2017, a year tainted by the trash-can-banging-scheme that triggered severe punishment.
“In 2019, they blew a three-games-to-two lead to a Washington Nationals team that didn’t catch fire until the very end. In 2021, they were defeated by a Braves team that followed a similar trajectory.”
Overall, the Braves have now emerged as champions four times — this year, 1995 over the Cleveland Indians, 1957 over the New York Yankees, and 1914 over the Philadelphia Phillies, when the Braves still played their home games in Boston.