The stage is set for the final scenes of the 2021 MLB season. It will end in Houston at Minute Maid Park, and if the Braves have their druthers, they’ll recover from a home Game 5 setback against the Astros to close out their first World Series title since 1995. If they fail, then all bets are off and it’s a win-or-go-home free-for-all in Game 7 tomorrow night.
What’s on deck?
World Series Game 6
Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves
(Luis Garcia vs. Max Fried)
Time: 8:09 PM EST
Venue: Minute Maid Park
For the first time since Game 3 on Friday, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker will hand the ball to a legitimate starter in Max Fried. Although the Braves split their two bullpen games since then, Snitker has to be glad that he’ll have an extremely good chance at getting more than a couple innings out of his starter.
The only downside is that Fried failed to impress during his World Series debut in Game 2, when he allowed six runs on seven hits and a walk across just five innings of work at this very same ballpark. That was Atlanta’s only loss during the first four games, and even if they put runs on the board on offense, they’ll need a much better showing from Fried to properly close out this Fall Classic. They have Ian Anderson waiting for a possible Game 7, but Fried is certainly capable to getting the job done (as he did in his first two playoff starts of 2021).
Opposing Fried for Houston will be Luis Garcia, pitching on three days’ rest. Because of how much he’s had to lean on the unsteady staff, skipper Dusty Baker didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. Game 1 starter Framber Valdez began Game 5, and Game 2 starter José Urquidy had to enter to briefly stem the tide when Valdez got smoked early.
So Garcia gets the call, with plenty of relievers available to back him up if he falters. The question is: Which Garcia will show up in Game 6? Will it be the one who dominated Boston in the ALCS clincher or the one who’s allowed 11 runs and walked 10 across his other 3 playoff starts this year?
Atlanta’s hoping for the latter. If they can plate a number of runs early, then they can turn to their top relievers at the first sign of danger for Fried and hope that some combination of Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter, Jesse, Chavez, Chris Martin, and maybe even Game 4 hero Kyle Wright can complete the relay race to Tyler Matzek and Will Smith for the final outs. The longer the Astros can keep the Braves’ lineup at bay though, the better the odds are that their own hitters will find a way to come up big and force a decisive Game 7.