With the late Hank Aaron casting a comforting eye on the team, the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday clinched their second World Series in the city. It’s Atlanta’s first title since 1995, when Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” topped the Billboard 100 charts and third baseman Austin Riley was still two years away from blessing the 404 with his birth.
The Braves clinched the title in a dominant showing over the Astros in game 6, holding the high-powered Houston offense to a shutout. Outfielder Jorge Soler put Atlanta on the board with a three-run blast in the third inning, followed by a home run from shortstop Dansby Swanson and an RBI from first baseman Freddie Freeman that put the Braves up six through five innings. Freeman then added one more run off a solo home run to extend the lead to seven.
After the disappointment of dropping game 5 and the chance to be crowned champions on their home field, the Braves ended a 26-year title drought for the franchise, which moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee in 1966.
After blowing a 3-1 lead to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 National League Championship Series, the Braves ensured they did not repeat their collapse from last October. For Brian Snitker, the win is his first championship in his over four-decade association with the franchise, both as a player and a coach.
A deep postseason stay and a World Series win wasn’t a guarantee for the Braves, who were 88-73 entering the postseason. Atlanta had the weakest record among all playoff teams and knocked of the 95-win Brewers and 106-win Dodgers en route to the Fall Classic.
How the Braves got here
Away games can be challenging for teams who have to face jeering crowds and unfamiliar ballparks, but the Braves have performed well on the road. The Braves held a 46-35 record on the road during the 2021 season, with an impressive 13-game road-winning streak.
The Braves opened the World Series with a 6-2 win over the Astros on the road, setting the tone for the next four games. Considered the underdogs of the entire series, the Braves changed the narrative in the first game. The Braves immediately put pressure on Astros pitcher Framber Valdez and scored five runs in the first three innings. Game one had two notable moments for the Braves — Soler’s first plate appearance home run and pitcher Charlie Morton breaking his leg on a pitch that came right back to him, forcing him to be out for the remainder of the series.
Soler’s home run began the Braves’ strong showing in game one.
Morton pitched into the third inning, but had to leave the field with a fractured fibula after being hit by a ball in the previous inning. His absence for the rest of the series created a void that the Braves have to fill. Fortunately, the Astros failed to capitalize on this unexpected turn of events, only scoring two runs after Morton left the mound.
The Astros’ bats came alive in game two to secure a 7-2 win and bring the series to a tie at 1-1. The second inning determined the game as the Astros brought outfielder Kyle Tucker, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Jose Siri and catcher Martin Maldonado home. Their seven runs were rounded out by second baseman Jose Altuve’s solo home run in the seventh inning.
Undeterred by game two, the Braves returned to Atlanta ready to win game three in front of their fans. The Braves secured a 2-1 series lead after a slow 2-0 game. Riley hit an RBI double in the third inning, but the score remained 1-0 until the eighth inning when catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit a home run to bring the score to its final 2-0, and pitcher Will Smith ended the game with only one hit surrendered in the top of the ninth inning.
The Braves squeezed by the Astros once again in game four to widen the series gap to 3-1. The Astros maintained a 2-0 lead going into the sixth inning, but the Braves started to rally after outfielder Eddie Rosario scored on Riley’s single. In the seventh inning, the Braves took the lead with back-to-back home runs by Swanson and Soler. The game ended at 3-2, bringing the Braves within reach of the Commissioner’s Trophy and a World Series title.
Game five elicited nervous and excited energy throughout Truist Park with the Braves up 3-1 in the series and the opportunity to bring the title home for the first time since 1995. The Braves started out strong with outfielder Adam Duvall’s grand slam in the first inning to give them a 4-0 lead. The Astros offense returned the runs, tying the game 4-4 in the third inning. First baseman Freddie Freeman hit a home run to bring in one run for the Braves, but it was not enough to combat Maldonado and outfielder Marwin Gonzalez’s five RBIs throughout the rest of the night. The final score 9-5 sends the Astros and the Braves back to Houston, where the Braves still have two opportunities to win the World Series.
Many Emory students hopped on the Braves bandwagon once their teams were eliminated from the postseason and the thought of an Atlanta championship inched closer to a reality. Emory student and avid sports fan Ellie Long (25C) watched the series and was amazed by the intensity of the games.
Long draws from history as she supports the Braves in opposition to the Astros. After the Astros were caught cheating in the 2017 World Series, Long found no reason to support them this time around.
“I do not support cheaters,” Long said. “The Astros 2017 World Series title should have been vacated and it was not. Thus, they do not deserve another one as they were not truly held accountable for violating the integrity of the game.”
Long added jokingly, “That, and I want to go to a parade.”
Long and other Emory students will now have the opportunity to welcome the Braves back to Atlanta following their World Series victory during a parade that will likely happen in the next few days.