HOUSTON – The Atlanta Braves nearly made a most unique bit of World Series history.
The Braves held the Houston Astros hitless through seven innings of Game 3 on a damp Friday night at Truist Park, bidding for the first no-hitter in the World Series since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956.
Yet the Braves lost the no-no in the top of the eighth when ace reliever Tyler Matzek – and not starter Ian Anderson – gave up the dinkiest of bloopers to end their shot at history.
Pinch hitter Aledmys Diaz hit a bloop leadoff single in the top of the eighth that fell in front of charging left fielder Eddie Rosario, dashing Atlanta’s bid for the first combined no-hitter in playoff history,
Surprised it was a cadre of of relievers, and not Anderson, aimnig for history? Well, Anderson was wild and just effective enough on this night, throwing 39 strikes and 37 balls through five innings, walking three and hitting another batter.
Yet he did not allow a hit.
But Braves manager Brian Snitker, sensing trouble ahead a third time through the order, yanked Anderson after five innings, disheartening those who enjoy the singular achievement of a solo no-no.
But Atlanta was nursing a 1-0 lead and Anderson, 23, failed to get deeper than five innings in three previous postseason innings, going three and four innings in two ineffective National League Championship Series starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
So Snitker removed Anderson and let the bullpen handle it.
A.J. Minter was once again up to the task, retiring both Astros lefty sluggers, Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez, in the top of the sixth. Luke Jackson took the baton in the seventh and retired the side in order, thanks to a nice backhand play and bouncing throw across the diamond by Austin Riley to get Yuli Gurriel ending the inning.
Matzek, oddly, has been most dominant of all, striking out 19 in 11 2/3 this postseason. But Diaz’s well-placed ball ruined the bid.
It was the longest no-hit bid in the World Series since Boston’s Jim Lonborg fell four outs shy of a no-hitter in Game 2 of the 1967 World Series.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: World Series Game 3: Astros held hitless by Braves pitchers until 8th