Braves throw 2-hitter, blank Astros 2-0 for 2-1 Series lead

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ATLANTA – Rookie right-hander Ian Anderson and the Braves’ bullpen took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning, Austin Riley and Travis d'Arnaud drove in runs and Atlanta beat the Houston Astros 2-0 Friday night to grab a 2-1 lead in the World Series.

Anderson and four relievers combined on a two-hitter.

Pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz blooped a single leading off the eighth against reliever Tyler Matzek that dropped in front of left fielder Eddie Rosario, just 232 feet from home plate, for Houston’s first hit.

Alex Bregman grounded a single through the wide-open right side of a shifted infield leading off the ninth against closer Will Smith, who remained perfect in five save chances this postseason.

Riley’s RBI double in the third off Astros rookie starter Luis Garcia put Atlanta ahead, and d’Arnaud hit a 437-foot homer off Kendall Graveman in the eighth. It was d’Arnaud’s second home run of this World Series and first long ball at home this season.

Of the 60 previous times the Series was tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner went on to win 39 times – including six of the last nine.

Rosario walked leading off a 43-pitch half-inning in the third. Freddie Freeman singled and Garcia left an 0-1 cutter over the plate that Riley lined between Bregman and third base, down the left-field line for an RBI double.

Jorge Soler walked, but Garcia stranded the bases loaded when Adam Duvall fouled to first and d’Arnaud struck out.

The Braves, who stranded nine runners, improved to 6-0 this postseason at Truist Park, which opened in 2017 and where they have won 11 of their last 12 games. Atlanta stopped a five-game home World Series losing streak.

Houston, the top-hitting team in the majors during the season with a .267 average, was limited to two hits, three walks and two hit batters.

The 23-year-old Anderson pitched through spotty control, striking out four and walking three. A.J. Minter and Luke Jackson followed with an inning each.

Diaz’s hit ended the longest no-hit bid in the Series since Game 2 in 1967. Boston ace Jim Lonborg pitched a one-hitter and allowed a two-out double in the eighth to St. Louis’ Julian Javier.

Pinch-runner Jose Siri stole second with two outs in the eighth and went to third when d’Arnaud’s throw skipped into center field for an error, but Siri was stranded when Michael Brantley popped out against Matzek.

“I just didn’t want to let the boys down,” Matzek said.

While the Astros’ Dusty Baker (72) and the Braves’ Brian Snitker (66) had the highest combined ages of World Series managers, they lifted their starting pitchers on the timetable triggered by modern metrics – after exactly 18 batters each, not wanting leadoff hitters to face the same pitcher for the third time.

In the Series for the first time since 1999, the Braves won at home for the first time since the sixth and final game of the 1995 World Series against Cleveland.

Anderson, who is 4-0 in eight career postseason starts over two major league seasons, had the second-longest no-hit bid by a rookie starter in World Series history behind Jeff Tesreau for the New York Giants in the 1912 opener, broken up when Boston’s Tris Speaker tripled with one out in the sixth.

Anderson hit a batter and threw just 39 of 76 pitches for strikes before he was pulled by Snitker.

“It was fine. I have the utmost trust in Snit and the bullpen, those guys coming in,” Anderson said. “You don’t get a nickname if you’re not shutdown like they are.”

Garcia gave up three hits in 3 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and four walks, throwing just 72 pitches and coming out after getting the first two outs of the fourth with just two pitches

This was the eighth matchup of rookie starters in the Series, the first since Detroit’s Justin Verlander and St. Louis’ Anthony Reyes in the 2006 opener. None of the Braves had faced Garcia coming in, and Marwin Gonzalez was the only one to have batted against Anderson (0 for 3).

Daylong rain stopped about an hour before the game, which started with a 49-degree temperature on a damp night. The Braves became the first team to host the Series in six ballparks after Boston’s Fenway Park (1914) and Braves Field (1948), Milwaukee’s County Stadium (1957, ’58), Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium (1991, ’92, 95, `96) and Turner Field (1999).

HAMMERIN’ HANK

Major League Baseball held a pregame tribute to Hank Aaron, the former Braves star and executive who died in January. Hank Aaron Jr. threw the ceremonial first pitch, accompanied by mother Billye Aaron and siblings Gaile and Dorinda.

FAMILY AFFAIR

Baker had hitting coach Troy Snitker go to the plate to exchange lineup cards with his dad, Braves manager Brian Snitker.

UP NEXT

Zack Greinke was expected to start Game 4 Saturday night for Houston, while the Braves go with the first of consecutive bullpen games in response to losing Game 1 starter Charlie Morton to a broken leg.

“Night shift’s ready,” Matzek said.

Report: Brandon Nimmo staying with Mets on 8-year, $162M deal

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – Center fielder Brandon Nimmo is staying with the free-spending New York Mets, agreeing to an eight-year, $162 million contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement is subject to a successful physical and no announcement had been made.

A quality leadoff hitter with an excellent eye and a .385 career on-base percentage, Nimmo became a free agent last month for the first time. He was a key performer as the Mets returned to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2016.

The left-handed hitter batted .274 with 16 homers and a team-high 102 runs, a career high. He also set career bests with 64 RBIs and 151 games played. His seven triples tied for most in the National League.

Bringing back Nimmo means New York is poised to return its entire everyday lineup intact from a team that tied for fifth in the majors in runs and won 101 regular-season games – second-most in franchise history.

But the Mets remain busy replenishing a pitching staff gutted by free agency, including Jacob deGrom‘s departure for Texas and Taijuan Walker‘s deal with Philadelphia that was pending a physical.

On the final day of baseball’s winter meetings Wednesday, the Mets completed an $86.7 million, two-year contract with former Houston ace Justin Verlander that includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. New York also retained All-Star closer Edwin Diaz last month with a $102 million, five-year contract, and the team has a $26 million, two-year agreement in place with veteran starter Jose Quintana, pending a physical.

Those moves add to a payroll that was the largest in the majors last season. Under owner Steve Cohen, who bought the Mets in November 2020, New York became baseball’s biggest spender this year for the first time since 1989. The Mets’ payroll was $273.9 million as of Aug. 31, with final figures that include bonuses yet to be compiled.

Nimmo was selected by New York with the No. 13 pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He declined a $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Mets last month.

The 29-year-old Wyoming native made his big league debut in 2016. He is a .269 career hitter with 63 homers, 213 RBIs and 23 triples in 608 games. He has an .827 career OPS and has improved his play in center, becoming a solid defender.

Nimmo’s new deal with the Mets was first reported by the New York Post.