Back in July, the Atlanta Braves were reeling. They had just lost star outfielder, Ronald Acuna Jr., to a torn ACL and were falling out of contention in the NL East. They went big at the trade deadline, completing redoing their outfield by acquiring Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, and Joc Pederson.
No one could have expected that a team missing their best player — Acuna — and one of their best pitchers in Mike Soroka, would go on to defeat the Houston Astros in the 2021 World Series. They have become an improbable story of grit and determination through difficult times.
For most fans of baseball, seeing the Astros lose is reward enough. However, the Braves became a nationwide feel-good story and have set themselves up for years of success in the future.
Game 1 was a perfect encapsulation of the Braves season. After two dominant innings, ace Charlie Morton left the game with what looked like a leg injury. Turns out, Morton essentially broke his leg after being hit by a line drive, but managed to toss 16 pitches on the injury before leaving the game.
It didn’t matter, as the Braves bullpen kept Morton’s dominance going, with a home run by Soler leading the way in a Braves 6-2 win in Houston.
The Astros did not take kindly to the Game 1 loss. They scored five runs in the first two innings of Game 2 off of Max Fried, including a Jose Altuve home run. The Astros knotted the series at one apiece heading to Atlanta with a 7-2 win.
Game 3 belonged to Ian Anderson for the Braves, but he and the Braves bullpen combined to be the heroes. Despite a lights out performance, Anderson was taken out after five innings, but the Braves threw a combined two-hitter, needing just a Travis d’Arnaud home run and an Austin Riley RBI double to win 2-0 and take a 2-1 series lead.
The Braves, who have a history of blowing big leads, found themselves on the other end of that in Game 4. In what was a bullpen game for Atlanta, they allowed a first inning run and a Jose Altuve home run in the fourth to take a 2-0 lead.
Riley’s sixth-inning RBI brought the deficit to one, but back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning by Dansby Swanson and Soler gave the Braves a 3-2 lead that they would not give back. Atlanta took a 3-1 series lead over the Astros.
In a dying gasp, the Astros offense exploded in Game 5. The Braves certainly gave them a scare with a first inning grand slam to make it 4-0, but Houston fought back. They scored two runs in the second and third, but took the lead in the fifth inning. A 9-5 win allowed the Astros to survive and bring the series back to Houston.
But that dying gasp was all the Astros had left, as they were dominated in the sixth and final game. Soler hit a 446-foot three-run home run, Swanson and Freeman had home runs and RBIs of their own, and it was a 7-0 World Series clinching victory for the Braves.
Soler — after hitting three home runs in the series — was World Series MVP as the Braves shocked the baseball world by winning it all.