Anderson in rare air with 5 no-hit innings

Braves' rookie righty has career 1.26 postseason ERA after G3 gem

October 30th, 2021

ATLANTA -- might have been physically capable of extending his no-hit bid during a 2-0 win over the Astros in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night. But he wasn’t able to persuade Braves manager Brian Snitker, whose decision to pull him after five innings proved effective during the final stages of the key victory recorded at Truist Park.

“He was like, ‘Are you sure, are you sure?’” Snitker said. “But I was like, ‘Ian, I’m going with my gut right here. My eyes and my gut.’ It would have been real easy to let him go back out. But our [top relievers] were rested.”

A historic no-hitter bid ended when Aledmys Díaz’s eighth-inning leadoff single dropped just in front of left fielder Eddie Rosario. But thanks to A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson and Will Smith, the Braves kept the shutout alive and finished it with a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven Series.

“The goal of every game is to get a win,” Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “I think a no-hitter would have been a bonus. You know [a no-hitter] wasn't our goal when the game started. It was just to go out there and execute pitches, and get out with a win.”

As the Braves won a World Series game in Atlanta for the first time since they clinched the 1995 Fall Classic, they received an RBI double from Austin Riley and d’Arnaud’s eighth-inning solo homer.

But the tone of this victory was set by Anderson, who became only the second pitcher to throw five or more hitless frames in a World Series outing as a starter or reliever, joining two-time World Series champion Don Larsen.

Only Derek Lowe (2010 NLDS Game 4) and Bill James (1914 World Series Game 2) have had longer postseason no-hit bids (both 5 1/3 innings) for the Braves. Anderson’s no-hitter through five innings matched two of Tom Glavine's postseason no-hit bids (1995 World Series Game 6 and ‘98 NLDS Game 2).

“What he did tonight was pretty cool,” Riley said.

Anderson was wildly effective and downright stingy as he extended his October mastery. He threw only 76 pitches, but just 39 of those were strikes. So, in many ways, there was reason for Snitker to pull his rookie before he faced the lineup a third time.

“That’s the way the playoffs have been played and managed,” Anderson said. “You can’t fault Snit for making that move.”

A few years ago, a less-analytically influenced Snitker likely would have sent Anderson back out for the sixth to see how far he could carry the no-hitter, the manager admitted. But Snitker saw his young hurler struggle with his command; he wasn’t excited about giving Houston’s first three hitters -- Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman -- a chance to face Anderson for a third time.

Altuve and Bregman had seen six pitches in both of their first two plate appearances. Brantley saw three pitches in the first inning and six more in the fourth. Those numbers significantly influenced Snitker’s decision.

“I mean, it could have backfired I guess,” Snitker said. “But I just thought at that point in time, in this game of this magnitude, that he had done his job.”

Anderson walked Yordan Alvarez and hit Carlos Correa with a pitch during a taxing 26-pitch fourth inning. But after needing just nine pitches to complete a perfect fifth, Anderson thought there was a chance Snitker might let him continue.

“You get that adrenaline after getting the last out in an inning,” Anderson said. “I felt good. Once you sit there for a little bit, maybe reality sets in a little more. But yeah, I thought there was a chance I could stay in.”

Now, Anderson may have a little more to give if he makes another start and attempts to enhance the October accomplishments he has realized through his first eight postseason starts.

Anderson has posted a career 1.26 ERA over his first 35 2/3 postseason innings. That mark is tied for second best in a player's first eight career postseason starts since earned runs became an official stat in both the AL and NL in 1913. Orlando Hernández had a 1.22 ERA at that point, while Cliff Lee's ERA was also 1.26.

“He’s been awesome,” Snitker said. “The kid is so mature.”

It looks like the Braves will go with a bullpen game in both Games 4 and 5. If this proves to be true, Max Fried would likely go on regular rest in a potential Game 6 and Anderson would be lined up for a potential Game 7.

So Anderson can spend at least a couple more days wondering what might have been.

“I'm still kind of processing a little bit,” Anderson said. “When you’re in the moment, you’re just focused on getting outs. I think I’ll look back on it tomorrow or whenever that time might be. But we still have some work to do.”