The Atlanta Braves have won their first World Series title since 1995 after defeating the Houston Astros 7-0 in Game 6 on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Braves took the Series four games to two behind strong pitching and three big home runs. And although Atlanta couldn’t close out the Astros at home in Game 5, thousands of fans flocked to the Braves’ stadium, Truist Park, on Tuesday to watch the game on a nippy but starry night.
“I’m still numb. I don’t really have emotions. I’m kind of trying to tell you guys things of how I feel because I don’t really feel anything yet,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “It’s going to hit hard soon. I don’t know when. Maybe it’s when we get to see everybody in Atlanta.”
The Braves once again homered their way to an early lead. In the top of the third, Braves Jorge Soler hammered the eighth pitch from Astros starter Luis Garcia for a three-run home run after Ozzie Albies singled and Eddie Rosario walked around two flyouts. Soler’s third homer of the Series traveled an estimated 446 feet, and it was the last pitch Garcia, starting on short rest, threw.
The Braves’ lead grew to 5-0 in the top of the fifth when Atlanta-area native Dansby Swanson crushed a two-run homer off Astros reliever Cristian Javier. Albies, who had walked to lead off the inning, scored ahead of Swanson.
“I just kept battling it out, I’d seen his stuff or whatever, so I was sitting on the off-speed, and I was thinking to myself, if he throws me an off-speed pitch, I can connect and drive the ball,” Soler said through an interpreter. “If he throws me a fastball, I’m just going to try to stay alive during this at-bat. I got to 3-2, and I didn’t want the same thing to happen on the first inning at-bat where I struck out on the off-speed pitch. So I was just kind of getting prepared for that.”
The pitch came in at 83 mph and left much quicker than that as, according to the Houston Chronicle, it ended up on a sidewalk outside the stadium.
One out and two batters later, Freeman doubled home Soler, who had walked, making the score 6-0.
Freeman, who could potentially be a free agent after the season, blasted a solo home run in the top of the seventh off Houston’s Ryne Stanek to make it 7-0.
Atlanta starting pitcher Max Fried was spectacular, striking out six in six innings and giving up just four singles. Two of those baserunners were erased on double plays, with Fried starting one of them.
“His fastball was really good and the slider,” Astros leadoff hitter Jose Altuve said. “He was way better than the first game. He pitched good. He didn’t use his curveball too much tonight, but fastball, slider, changeup was really good. He was almost unhittable.”
Relievers Tyler Matzek and Will Smith pitched the final three innings. The three Braves hurlers combined to strike out 10, throwing 121 pitches, two-thirds of them for strikes.
“This whole World Series, world championship, you can’t say enough about our pitching,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. Snitker, who has been a part of the Braves’ organization for 44 years, also gave credit to the analytics staff and their game planning.
The Astros had only six hits, all singles, and had just three at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“They played great. We couldn’t keep them in the ballpark,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We walked somebody, then that led to the crooked-number innings. The pitching shut us down.”
Twenty-six years ago when the Braves won their last World Series, Atlanta and Houston were both National League teams and maverick media mogul Ted Turner owned the team. And they also had strong pitching with three future Hall of Famers — Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz — in the starting rotation.
The Braves’ success this season has not insulated them from controversy. Native American groups and advocates have demanded the organization eliminate the “Tomahawk Chop” symbol and gesture from its branding and game day traditions, saying the team is perpetuating racist stereotypes.
Last summer, the Braves said they were reviewing the chop amid calls from the Native community.
The team won just 72 games in 2017 but began a four-year run of making the postseason with 90 wins in 2018.
The Braves hold the MLB record with 14 consecutive division titles (1991 to 2005) and won the one World Series title in that time. Last year the Braves held a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series but lost when the Los Angeles Dodgers won the final three contests and then the World Series.