The Atlanta Braves almost made history in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday. They instead settled for a 2-0 win and 2-1 series lead over the Houston Astros. Righty Ian Anderson and four relievers held a powerhouse Astros lineup to two soft singles in nine innings, and they took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Aledmys Díaz broke it up with a bloop single.
Here's the single that broke up the Game 3 no-hit bid:
"He wasn't going to pitch a nine-inning no-hitter," Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters about removing Anderson. "I went with my eyes, my gut. It could have backfired, I guess. I thought in a game of this magnitude, he had done his job."
Had the Braves been able to finish off the no-hitter in Game 3, it would have been a) the third no-hitter in postseason history, b) the second no-hitter in World Series history, and the c) the first combined no-hitter in postseason history. They were six outs away from making serious history. Walking away with a win and a series lead is a pretty good consolation prize though.
In honor of Anderson & Co.'s Game 3 no-hit bid, here's the history of postseason no-hitters and close calls.
Roy Halladay, Phillies vs. Reds in 2010 NLDS Game 1: Halladay's first career postseason start was fittingly historic. The late Hall of Famer had thrown a perfect game a few months prior during the regular season, and he struck out eight Reds hitters in his NLDS no-hitter. Cincinnati's only baserunner was a Jay Bruce walk in the fifth inning. Halladay had waited a long time to pitch in the postseason -- he made his MLB debut Sept. 20, 1998 and his postseason debut on Oct. 6, 2010 -- and his first game was memorable. The Phillies went on to sweep the series.
Don Larsen, Yankees vs. Dodgers in 1956 World Series Game 5: The only perfect game in postseason history. Larsen was awful in Game 2 in that 1956 series, allowing four runs in 1 2/3 innings, but he came back in Game 5 and retired all 27 batters he faced. He threw 97 pitches in the perfect game and came closest to allowing a baserunner when Jackie Robinson nearly beat out a ground ball to third base for an infield single. The Yankees beat the Dodgers in seven games and catcher Yogi Berra jumping into Larsen's arms after the final out of Game 5 is one of the most iconic images in the sport's history.
Notable postseason close calls
Braves vs. Astros in 2021 World Series Game 3: This is the postseason of the relief pitcher, so this close call was a combined no-hit bid. Anderson started and gave way to relievers AJ Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek, and Will Smith. Matzek allowed Houston's first hit to Díaz leading off the eighth inning. Atlanta became the first team to throw seven no-hit innings in a World Series game since Jim Lonborg of the Red Sox in Game 2 of the 1967 World Series against the Cardinals. The Game 3 win gave Atlanta a 2-1 series lead.
Aníbal Sánchez, Nationals vs. Cardinals in 2019 NLCS Game 1: The No. 4 starter behind Washington's big three (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin), Sánchez became the first pitcher in history to throw at least six innings with no more than one hit allowed in two separate postseason starts. He also did it against the Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2013 ALCS while with the Tigers. Jose Martinez's broke up Sánchez's no-hit bid with a two-out single in the eighth. The Nationals would go on to sweep St. Louis.
Michael Wacha, Cardinals vs. Pirates in 2013 NLDS Game 4: Wacha was a rookie sensation in 2013, and in his first career postseason start, he kept the Pirates out of the hit column until Pedro Alvarez clocked a one-out home run in the eighth inning. That was the only hit Wacha and the Cardinals would allow, and the win forced a decisive Game 5. St. Louis won the series.
Jim Lonborg, Red Sox vs. Cardinals in 1967 World Series Game 2: As noted earlier, Lonborg was the last pitcher to take a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a World Series game prior to the Braves on Friday. Lonborg retired the first 19 Cardinals he faced in Game 2 and lost the no-hitter on Julian Javier's two-out double in the eighth inning. That was the only hit he allowed in the complete game shutout. The Cardinals would go on to win the series in seven games, however.
Bill Bevens, Yankees vs. Dodgers in 1947 World Series Game 4: This start defined "effectively wild." Bevens walked 10 batters in 8 2/3 innings -- he had only two 1-2-3 innings in the no-hit bid -- and he lost the no-hitter in the most painful way imaginable. With the Yankees nursing a 2-1 lead in the ninth, Bevens walked two batters (one intentionally), then allowed a two-run walk-off double to Cookie Lavagetto. No-hitter over, game over. Ouch. The Yankees and Bevens did go on to win the series in seven games, so they got the last laugh.
Red Ruffing, Yankees vs. Cardinals in 1942 World Series Game 1: Ruffing, a Hall of Famer, was charged with four runs in 8 2/3 innings in this game despite taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning. He walked six batters and did not allow a hit until Terry Moore singled with two outs in the eighth, then St. Louis pushed four runs across in the ninth. Ruffing and the Yankees held on to win Game 1, but the Cardinals won the next four games and the series.
Monte Pearson, Yankees vs. Reds in 1939 World Series Game 2: An easy-to-overlook pitcher on a 106-win Yankees team, Pearson took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Cincinnati, then surrendered a single to Ernie Lombardi with one out. He finished with the two-hit shutout and the Yankees swept the series. Pearson made four career World Series starts and allowed four earned run in 35 2/3 innings. That's a 1.01 ERA.
Herb Pennock, Yankees vs. Pirates in 1927 World Series Game 3: The Murderer's Row Yankees could pitch a little too. Pennock, a Hall of Famer, took a perfect game into the eighth inning in Game 3 before fellow Hall of Famer Pie Traynor socked a single to break it up. He finished with three hits allowed in the complete game win and the Yankees went on to sweep the series.
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