World Series score: Braves win first title in 26 years after slugging past Astros in Game
The Atlanta Braves are World Series champions for the first time since 1995. The Braves won the 2021 World Series on Tuesday, defeating the Houston Astros 7-0 (box score) in Game 6 to take the series, 4-2. The Braves, who won the title at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, were paced by an offensive onslaught and a gem from left-hander Max Fried in the title-clinching win.
Atlanta jumped out to a sizable lead thanks to two multi-run home runs early in the game. Jorge Soler delivered a massive three-run blast in the third inning to put Atlanta up early. Statcast had Soler’s home run traveling 446 feet with an exit velocity of 109.6 mph.
Soler, who was named World Series MVP, entered the game having homered twice as part of a 5 to 17 start to the Fall Classic. In Game 6, he hit the loudest homer of the postseason:
Then, in the fifth, the Braves plated a pair of runs on a Dansby Swanson homer. Swanson’s wasn’t quite as impressive as Soler’s, but it did have an exit velocity of 108.8 mph and it carried some 411 feet, again according to Statcast. A Freddie Freeman double later in the fifth (and then a homer in the seventh) gave the Braves what proved to be an insurmountable 7-0 lead.
Here are three other things to know about the Braves’ championship victory, including Fried’s gem.
1. Fried recovers from rocky start
The funny thing about Max Fried’s start is that it could’ve easily gone south. Fried allowed the first two runners he faced to reach base: one on an infield single, the other on an error that saw Fried make multiple mistakes as he attempted to cover first on a throw from Freddie Freeman. Fried didn’t look to Freeman early enough to receive the ball as he was in motion, and also failed to find the bag with his foot. As a consequence of the latter part, Fried had his ankle/shin area stepped on by the runner, Houston left fielder Michael Brantley.
Fried, who had dealt with his fair share of misfortune this postseason run, was nevertheless able to right the ship. He escaped the first inning without allowing damage, and from there he was automatic. All told, Fried threw six shutout innings, surrendering just four hits and no walks on the night. He punched out four batters and he generated seven swinging strikes on 74 pitches. He was ever-efficient, too, stringing together three consecutive innings during the middle frames in which he delivered a single-digit number of pitches.
Manager Brian Snitker didn’t ask too much from Fried, either, pulling him to begin the seventh so that he could turn things over to his bullpen.
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2. It was a long-awaited and improbable title
For most of the regular season, the Braves never seemed likely to appear in the World Series, let alone win it.
The Braves front office had a busy July, acquiring four outfielders (including Soler and Eddie Rosario) and various other role players to buoy their chances. Yet those chances weren’t particularly great at the time. The Braves entered August with a losing record, and they wouldn’t secure a share of first place in the NL East until mid-August.
Even after the Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS, they seemed likely to fall to whichever of the NL West superpowers emerged from the other NLDS: either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers won that series, forcing a rematch from last year’s NL Championship Series. Unlike in 2020, though, the Braves built a 3-1 lead and were able to cash in to win the pennant.
The Braves were then able to take it to the Astros, securing their first World Series championship since 1995.
Making the Braves’ run all the more remarkable is that they were without arguably their best position player and best pitcher for most of the year. Outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. tore his ACL in July, while right-hander Mike Soroka didn’t pitch all season after re-tearing his Achilles tendon. (On a far more serious note, outfielder Marcell Ozuna was placed on administrative leave during the season after he was arrested on allegations of domestic violence.)
So often, the beauty of the postseason is that the improbable can and does happen — perhaps more frequently than during the regular season. The Braves proved as much in the last month.
3. Astros have questions ahead
As for the World Series losers, the Astros will now head into a pivotal offseason.
Manager Dusty Baker’s contract is set to expire, and it’s unclear if the Astros will retain his services heading forward. Ditto for impending free agents like shortstop Carlos Correa (who seems likely to leave) and starters Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, with Greinke standing out as a potential retirement candidate. At minimum, the Astros could look a lot different come next Opening Day. That event, should it not be scrapped or postponed because of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, is scheduled for March 31, 2022.