Braves manager Brian Snitker was sitting back in the dugout — a result of the cold and rainy Atlanta weather Friday night — instead of sitting up front when the Astros sent Aledmys Diaz to the plate to pinch hit Friday night.
To that point in the game, leading off the eighth inning, the Braves had kept Houston out of the hit column, with five innings from starter Ian Anderson, an inning from A.J. Minter and an inning from Luke Jackson.
Diaz hit a shallow fly on a 2-1 count against Braves left-hander Tyler Matzek. Everyone in Atlanta’s Truist Park stared straight up as the ball soared high into the air toward left field. As left fielder Eddie Rosario raced in and shortstop Dansby Swanson pedaled back, it became less clear whether the ball would be caught. As it turned out, the ball hit the ground untouched, breaking up the combined no-hitter and ending Atlanta’s shot at history in the World Series.
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While the Braves still won Game 3 2-0, and the coaches and players might say after the game the win is all that mattered, many fans wanted to be able to watch a bit of baseball history. There has been only one nine-inning no-hitter in World Series history. It came in 1956 when Don Larsen pitched a perfect game for the Yankees against the Dodgers in Game 5.
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What happened on the Astros’ first hit?
The play might have seemed routine, and in many cases, it would have been.
According to Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo, the fly ball had an 85 percent catch probability.
In a situation like that, the left fielder normally takes control and calls off the shortstop, who would then step out of the way to allow the play to be made. However, as Braves manager Brian Snitker explained, that level of communication is easier said than done in a World Series game in a team’s home ballpark.
“It is so loud and it’s hard to hear,” Snitker said. “That’s one of those plays where you practice, if you got somebody that can work the pitching machine really good, do that play when we do popup priorities in spring training. That’s a big play that we do so we don’t have wrecks and guys take command of that. But in these circumstances, anything can happen because guys can’t hear each other.”
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Rosario was charging in and it appeared he had a read on the fly ball, but as he looked down and realized that he and Swanson were on a collision course, he backed off.
“I started charging it hard right away, and I noticed Dansby was charging hard as well. He had his back to the ball so obviously we’re both trying to make a play on the ball,” Rosario said through a translator. “When I knew I had a bead on it, I was trying to say, ‘I got it. I got it.’ But obviously, I knew Dansby couldn’t hear me so at the last minute, knowing that we couldn’t communicate, I just wanted to make sure I avoided any collision between the two of us. So I just kind of eased up on it right there.”
It was likely for the best that he did. Had the two collided, center fielder Adam Duvall still looked to be quite a bit away from where the two were, and it likely would have allowed Diaz to reach second base, putting a runner in scoring position with no one out. By sacrificing the hit, Rosario was able to keep Diaz at first. Diaz was later lifted for a pinch runner, Jose Siri, who took off for second on a stolen base attempt with two outs. He was able to advance to third on an errant throw by catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Michael Brantley then popped out to leave Siri stranded there.
The Braves would allow one more hit Friday. Alex Bregman led off the top of the ninth with a ground-ball single to right field against the shift. Given how the defense was aligned, Atlanta’s infielders had no chance to retire Bregman.