No Acuña, No Problem: Atlanta Wins First World Series in 25 Years

By Ethan Miller ‘23 

 Credit: Johnny Angelillo/Shutterstock

On July 10th, the Braves lost all hope of returning to the postseason – let alone make it to the World Series. Superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña, Jr., while chasing down a fly ball in a game against the Miami Marlins, landed awkwardly, tearing his ACL and ending his season. Given that Acuña is the Brave’s best player, many thought that the Braves were done, but they went on to prove the whole league wrong. At the time of the injury, the Braves were 44-44 and 4.5 games behind the Mets in the division- and now were missing their best player.

As the summer dragged on, the Braves crept closer and closer to the division lead, with a motley assortment of free agents and trade acquisitions attempting to make up the offensive void left by Acuña. On August 15th, they beat the Nationals to grab the division lead for the first time all year. From that point on, they would never relinquish it, and despite a relatively weak record at 88-73, they made the playoffs.

To start the playoffs, Atlanta faced off against the Milwaukee Brewers, who won the National League Central with a record of 95-67. The Braves, despite having the worse record of the two, made quick work of the Brewers and cruised into the National League Championship Series, winning the 5-game series against Milwaukee 3-1. In the NLCS, they would face the dominant L.A. Dodgers.

The Dodgers, defending World Series champions, dispatched the San Francisco Giants in 5 games in the NLDS before facing off with the Braves in the NLCS. The Braves won the first 2 games to take an early lead in the 7-game series, then split the next 2 with Los Angeles to enter game 5 up 3-1 in the series. The Dodgers won that one to pull within 1 of the Braves, but Atlanta squashed any hopes of a comeback from LA with a 4-2 win in Game 6, launching the once left-for-dead Braves into the World Series to face off against everyone’s favorite team, the Houston Astros.

Houston won the 2017 World Series against the LA Dodgers, but in 2019 were thrown into the fire for allegations of a sign stealing scandal, which was then confirmed in January 2020. The team was punished heavily for their actions in the largest cheating scandal in MLB history. This year, under intense scrutiny, the Astros were once again one of the American League’s finest. Throughout the scandal, the Astros public enemy number one for most of the nation’s MLB fans- all setting the Braves up to be one of the most well liked World Series teams in recent history. As a Phillies fan, however, I can’t say I was able to root for Atlanta.

Atlanta won Game 1 by a score of 6-2, but the Astros answered right back with a win of their own, winning 7-2 in Game 2. From there, the series moved to Atlanta for the next 3 games. Atlanta played phenomenally at home, winning games 3 and 4 2-0 and 3-2, respectively. Going into Game 5, Atlanta had a chance to clinch their first World Series title since 1995 at home in front of their fans, but the Astros weren’t done yet. 

The Braves jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, and all hope of a redemption win seemed lost for Houston. But the Astros battled back and won Game 5 with a score of 9-5 and sent the series back home to Houston, being down 3-2. If the Astros were to win their second title in 5 years, they would need to win both Game 6 and 7.

Coming into Game 6 with a win at their backs, in front of their hometown fans, the Astros looked to have flipped the momentum of the series to their favor. In front of over 42,000 spectators at Minute Maid Park, the Astros took the field ready for a comeback. And they fell flat on their faces. 

It wasn’t even close. The Braves scored 3 runs in the 3rd inning off the bat of Jorge Soler, who hit a monster home run that left the stadium- silencing the Astro fans in the process. The Braves never looked back from there, as they added 3 more in the 5th and 1 more in the 7th. Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman added home runs in the game, with the final score being 7-0 Braves; the series was won 4-2. 

Jorge Soler was named the World Series MVP after going 6 for 20 in the series with 3 go ahead home runs, including the one that put the Braves ahead for good in Game 6 and gave Atlanta the title. The title is Atlanta’s 4th World Series win in 10 total visits to the Fall Classic in the franchise’s historic existence. 

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