WS Game 4 Recap

Don’t know how this going to work out, but this recap is my attempt to live blog game 4 of the 2021 World Series. Quite often I’ll follow along with the comments on the game threads, but tonight you are getting my unvarnished (and quite possibly ill-informed) reactions without the benefit of the crowd. I also usually have the sound turned down since the announcers don’t generally add much to my enjoyment of the game, so I won’t be reacting to anything they might say (inane or otherwise).

So far it’s been a pretty bad sports day for me. Both my alma maters lost their games and that other team from Georgia kept on rolling as expected, so the sports gods owe me one. It’s not clear to me what the Braves’ plan is tonight after Dylan Lee was tabbed as the surprise opener. I think this is the downside of not having Anderson pitch the 6th last night. If Minter hadn’t been used, I would have let him try to make it through the order once tonight. Hopefully Lee can get through the first unscathed, then I expect we’ll see Wright for as long as he’s effective. Who knows after that. To this point Snitker has been way more right than wrong in the postseason, hope it continues.

First, a musical interlude to get the juices flowing.

All right, comfortably ensconced in my living room with beverage of choice in hand and suitably pumped up, here we go.

First Inning: Altuve with an infield single on the first pitch. Tough play for Dansby, almost got him. Walked Brantley on 5 pitches, not a good start for Lee. Got Bregman swinging, he’s had a terrible series so far. Lee constantly pitching from behind, walks Alvarez on 4 pitches, Snitker pulls him. Stage looked like it was just too big for him, pitching afraid. Now Wright is in, exactly NOT the situation you want to start him with, bases loaded one out. Starts well against Correa but then quickly gets into a full count. Correa hits a nubber to Riley, only play is at 1st, one run in. Gets a friendly call on strike 2 to Tucker, followed by a near-wild pitch where Brantley doesn’t try it, then gets Tucker on a high fastball out of the zone. Nice work to limit the damage.

Rosario hits an easy fly to center, then Freddie drops one in front of Tucker for a single. Albies chases strike 3, and Riley hits a fly off the end of the bat to end the inning. Not off to a great start.

Second Inning: Wright gets ahead of Gurriel, then gets him to ground one to Freddie for an easy out. Grienke singles sharply up the middle on a pitch in the center of the zone, then Maldonado hits a little flair that drops in front of Pederson. Back to the top of the order, danger danger Will Robinson. Altuve rips one down the third base line but Austin makes a fantastic diving play to turn the double into an out, might have saved two runs there. Gets Brantley to hit a routine grounder to second, whew.

Grienke has hitters off balance so far, Pederson grounds weakly to 2nd on a pitch out of the zone, then D’Arnaud watches strike 3. Duvall singles between 3rd and short on a 3-0 count, but Dansby lines out to left. 31 pitches for Grienke so far.

Third Inning: Wright gets Bregman to pop up to Ozzie. Wright just missing to Alvarez, but all his pitches have good movement. On full count, ball 4 is not close. Wright now starting on second time through the order, Correa jumps on 1st pitch for a single, runners 1st and 2nd one out for Tucker. Wright quickly falls behind 3-0, then Tucker grounds sharply to Ozzie, but we can’t quite turn 2. After falling behind 2-0 to Gurriel (squeezed on first pitch), they intentionally walk him to load the bases for Grienke. He hits it up the middle again, but this time Ozzie is able to get to it and retires Grienke to end the inning. Wright walking a tightrope but hasn’t fallen yet.

Snit is letting Wright bat leading off the Atlanta half, and he obligingly strikes out. Very surprised about that choice. Rosario singles to center, but Freddie ground into a double play to snuff out the inning. Not doing any damage to Grienke so far.

Fourth Inning: Wright gets Maldonado to ground weakly to third, then Altuve crushes a pitch at the bottom of zone but over the center of the plate for a homer to straightaway center, 2-0 Astros. Brantley grounds to Freddie, and Wright strikes out Bregman (whose miseries thankfully continue) to end the Astros half. Game is still in reach, but need to get something going offensively.

Ozzie grounds to short, then Riley hits a hard shot up the middle for a single. But Pederson promptly hits into another double play, nothing doing.

Fifth Inning: Wright gets Alvarez to chase a breaking ball down and in for a strikeout. Wright is now facing the order for the third time. Really surprised Snit has let him pitch this far into the game, but he gets Correa to ground out weakly to short for the second out. Tucker rips a liner past Ozzie, now Gurriel is up. Tucker steals second and in almost a replay of last night, D’Arnaud’s throw skips into center, Tucker advancing to 3rd. They intentionally walk Gurriel again, and Baker pinch hits for Grienke with Marwin Gonzales. Grienke goes 4, scatters 4 hits. The Astros got everything they could have hoped for out of him. Need to get Gonzales to stay in this game, and he pops to left to end the threat.

Stanek in for the Astros. Wright is 4th up, so if they get anything going his night will certainly be over. D’Arnaud grounds to 2nd, Duvall pops to left, Dansby looks at strike 3, more futility.

Sixth Inning: Snit sends Martin out, so Wright’s night is over. Overall Wright did well, with the homer to Altuve being the only real mistake. Martin gets Maldonado to hit a soft liner to Ozzie and strikes out Altuve, then Brantley hits a grounder through the infield for a single. Bregman’s awful series continues with an easy grounder to short to force Brantley to end the Astro’s half. He’s been a human rally killer.

Raley pitching for the Astros. Arcia pinch hits for Martin and promptly flies out to right. Rosario’s hot series continues with a smoked double to right, the first real threat of the night for the Braves. Smyly and Matzek both up in the pen, guess it will be Matzek if the Braves rally, Smyly otherwise. Let’s keep Smyly in the pen, shall we? Freddie walks, Dusty yanks Raley for Maton. Come on Ozzie … crap he strikes out on a full-count fastball up and in. It’s up to Riley if this is going to amount to anything … he comes through with a single to left, Rosario scores easily. Riley risks advancing to 2nd on the throw and is almost out when he overslides the base but fortunately Altuve did not make contact all the way through the slide and Riley falls back on the bag before Altuve reapplies the tag. They are reviewing but he was clearly safe. Dusty intentionally walks Pederson to get the righty match-up with D’Arnaud, bases loaded, c’mon Travis … he stares at strike 3 right down Broadway. Man that hurts.

Seventh Inning: Snit brings in Matzek, need to hold them here. Alvarez grounds to short, Correa grounds to third, but Tucker lines one over third for a single. Gurriel flies out to right. Braves pitchers have still not had a clean inning, but this one was relatively drama free at least.

Javier in for Houston, Duvall up for the Braves, strikes out on a nasty off-speed pitch. Dansby up … Lt. Dans !!!! Homer to right, game tied at 2!!! Fastball right down the heart of the plate and he didn’t miss it. Soler now hits for Matzek, more damage please … holy crap, he did it, a smoked liner just out of the reach of Alvarez over the bullpen fence in left field. Braves lead, Braves lead, Braves lead!!! That’s all for Javier, still only one out. Pressly in to face Rosario … he strikes out on a breaking pitch down in the dirt. Freddie up … and Pressly gets him with a high fastball. But we finally dented the Astro’s pen, now let’s finish them off.

Eighth Inning: Jackson in to pitch the 8th, c’mon let’s see good Luke. Leading off is pinch hitter Diaz. Minter is warming up in case of trouble. Wow close checked swing that would have been strike 3, could have gone either way but probably the right call. After fighting off several full count pitches, Diaz hits a hard liner to left but right at Rosario, one out. Maldonado up, Luke goes full on him as well … then strikes him out on a low breaking ball, two down. Top of the order with Altuve … holy crap he smokes the first pitch to left but Rosario somehow snags it! It was almost a carbon-copy of Soler’s homer, and off the bat I thought sure it was gone. But Altuve did not quite hit it as far as Soler’s drive and it wouldn’t have quite cleared the fence. Excellent play by Rosario, only three more outs to get. Can Smith do it again? How about getting him some Smith Space please?

Pressly back out to face Ozzie, he draws a walk. Riley strikes out, then Pederson is hit by a pitch on his left foot on an 1-2 count, Heredia in as pinch-runner and defensive replacement. Travis up with a chance to extend the lead … but he strikes out again, that’s three K’s for D’Arnaud. Duvall pops out to third to end the threat, now it’s the Will Smith Experience once more, no net this time.

Ninth Inning: Heredia in center, Duvall shifts over to right. C’mon Will let’s close them out without any drama. Brantley up to start things off … and Smith strikes him out with a perfect pitch on the lower outside corner. Bregman up … and he pops out on the first pitch, he has really stunk up the joint. One more out to get and its Alvarez … first pitch breaking ball down in the zone for strike 1. Second pitch another breaking ball, this time on the lower outside corner, strike 2. Third pitch in the dirt. Fourth pitch inside 2-2. Alvarez fights off pitch 5. Pitch 6, Alvarez hits a grounder to Freddie, unassisted for the final out, Braves win!!!

What a game. A couple of exceptional defensive plays and back-to-back homers were the difference. Kyle Wright held the Astros in check and the bullpen was lights out yet again. Up 3 games to 1, how about we close this thing out on our home field Sunday?

Author: Kirk H.

Kirk H. is a long-time reader of and occasional contributor to Braves Journal who after all these years is still in possession of most of his faculties. Don't follow him on Twitter (or elsewhere, as that would be kind of creepy).

51 thoughts on “WS Game 4 Recap”

  1. Short of someone separating from the pack in the rest of the series, then the MVPs are people who won’t get it: Jose Altuve or the Night Shift. Otherwise, there isn’t a MVP.

    Is Kyle Wright playing himself into the team’s 2022 plans? 25 years old is certainly not old, but the best description of his performance is a “comeback” or “resurgence”. I’m really happy for him.

  2. @1 – A literal journal of an amazing season. I’d probably buy that too. I really hope I get to write the last chapter tonight.

  3. Yes, Rusty, you’re the ideal person to take this one to the house. I’m scheduled for Wednesday; I’ll be delighted if last Wednesday was my final recap of the season.

    Whether it is or not, I’m counting on returning for next season. And I’m willing to commit right now to do so on a one year deal without a raise in pay. Perhaps all the Braves free agent outfielders will do the same.

  4. Back-to-back go ahead homers, followed by that catch from Rosario… this isn’t over, but it’s having the feel of destiny.

  5. This has been an incredible run and I’ll admit after the Acuna injury I never thought they’d get here. The team has been resilient and AA’s moves at the deadline were like pixie dust that gave the team new life.
    Even with Ynoa and Morton going down in the playoffs this team continues to roll.
    What I’ve learned is first, I’m a pessimist. Must take a look in the mirror and work on that. Second, while Snitker may not be the most strategic manager out there, he’s definitely been instrumental in keeping this team’s focus. What a great job this season.
    Hope thr magic continues one more night. Going to let the kids stay up for this one.

  6. Seriously, if anyone wants and can take the time, you have all the permissions to make it happen. It would be really cool.

  7. I have to admit, I nearly turned the game off last night after the umpteenth strike called a ball but thank God I stayed tuned in. I’ve no idea if it was my rally cap or JonathanF’s Whistlepig, or something other, but those HRs by Swanson and Soler followed by shut down innings by the Night Shift were the stuff of legend.

    As far as MVP, I agree it’s still too early to say (and it ain’t over so I don’t want to get too far ahead) but for the sake of sh$ts and giggles, I’d say it has to be so far between Soler (2 HR thus far and a welcome return to the line-up) and strangely enough Riley (if you believe or go by the cWPA) on the offense side and I still say Wright’s performance last night deserves consideration. That kept us in a game it looked like we could lose at any moment long enough to get the 2 homers that put us ahead.

    But I agree, in a true sense the MVP of this series (and entire post season) has to be Jackson/Minter/Matzek/Smith. We don’t get this far without their lights out innings. One more win to go, fellas.

  8. Since the MVP will only go to one guy and not an entire bullpen, I’d say Luke Jackson is the leader in the clubhouse as of right now. If Riley gets the game-winning hit tonight, he’ll get it. There’s an argument to be made for Ian Anderson, but he probably doesn’t have much of a chance unless we go to Game 7, which let’s hope doesn’t happen.

  9. Y’all, this feels good. Let’s just not do anything to earn the ire of the baseball gods. Got one more to win. Let’s keep the gas pedal pressed to the floor.

    Discussion topic:

    Brian Snitker appears to be a better playoff manager than Bobby Cox. Thoughts?

  10. @12 I, too, have been having that consideration. May this team roll on like an 18-wheeler tonight and claim the title.

  11. Brian Snitker appears to be a better playoff manager than Bobby Cox.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall for how decisions are made in the clubhouse and dugout. My impression of the 90’s and 00’s decision-making process is that Bobby and Leo ran the show, and all the other pieces — JS, Corrales, base coaches — didn’t play much of a role. But I think AA, Weiss, EYS, and Wash play pretty big roles in the gameplanning and personnel decisions, and Kranitz and Seitzer don’t play a lot. I could definitely be wrong about Kranitz/Seitzer/Wash/EYS/Weiss, but I definitely think AA has a really good working relationship with Snit, and AA has more influence than JS did with Bobby.

    As a result, I think the outcome is much better. I think it’s much more analytical, it’s much more methodical about winning every pitch, inning, situation, whereas Bobby felt the best thing he could do is completely stay out of the way during the postseason and not over-manage. I think Snit has threaded that needle much, much better than Bobby.

  12. @15 I was tempted to open that discussion before this series is over but had opted to wait. One thing to remember is that Bobby Cox made 5 NLCS and 4 World Series appearances in his first 5 playoffs with the Braves.

    I think the late ’90s and ’00s tainted something legendary.

  13. @5

    It’s too early for the “d” word

    Whilst you and I, and I suspect the majority on here may well think it, let’s not go there

    See you all later

  14. @4 – I was thinking more about ending it tonight. I’d be equally happy if Tuesday were the last chapter. Wednesday, 50 -50 (no offense.)

  15. I’ve noticed a few times the players have mentioned “the front office guys” as helping in game planning. Guys plural, so it’s not just AA (and that doesn’t seem like a GM-type thing anyway). Don’t ever remember hearing that in previous years.

    Despite what it felt like through the fifth, Houston’s pitchers only had one clean inning all night. (Braves pitchers had two, the 8th & 9th, though the 8th didn’t feel too risk-free with the need for Rosario’s catch on Altuve’s liner.) Granted, the Braves had only four singles in the first five innings, and two runners were quickly erased by double plays.

    With runners on base, the Braves were 1 for 10 (Riley’s single) with two GIDPs, two walks (Freeman & Albies), an IBB, and a HBP (Pederson).

    Altuve almost had himself one hell of a game. Beat out an infield single and scored the Astros’ first run, denied a two-run double by an spectacular Riley play, crushed a home run for the Astros’ second run, and should have had extra bases if not for Rosario’s desperate catch.

  16. @17, just a slight caveat, in Bobby’s first 3 playoff appearances, making the NLCS wasn’t an accomplishment since there were no division series before 1995. If I remember correctly from when I looked it up once, the 90s/00s teams were not horrible postseason performers overall, maybe a little over .500 against teams that averaged 95 wins or so, or maybe it was that they slightly outperformed their expected W-L record given their regular season records and those of their opponents. Like you say, their postseason performance in the latter years of the run left a bad taste, though.

    Do Braves pinch-hitters have any singles this postseason? Pederson and Soler have big homers, Adrianza has a double, but I don’t remember any singles.

  17. Great reporting, Kirk. Thank you. I needed it, having slept through all the Braves runs.

    Win it tonight, boys.

  18. @22 – Hmm. Making the postseason in and of itself is an accomplishment, especially prior to extra games in the NLCS and Division Series. In 1993, 104 wins meant something when we all watched LA beat the Giants on the last day as we won (only time I’ve ever rooted for them.)

    Bobby was a player’s manager, as is Snit. Not so much a game manager. I’ve often thought (and said) that we lost the Series we should have won and won the Series we should have lost…on paper. The game is not played on paper and the players have something to do with it even outside of the umps and managers.

    Is Snit better than Cox? No. Not by a large margin. Is he better in-game? Maybe. He’s more open to the new analytics (even if they sometimes screw us.)

    And Tucker tonight…how long does he pitch, I wonder? How much of a leash?

  19. @10 While true about TDA’s framing abilities (or lack thereof):

    -According to the umpire scorecard people, ten games in a row that ATL has been on the losing side is now a record since they started keeping track of this.
    -they are 1-16 since the phillies series in september.
    -this doesn’t take into account the check swing umpiring, which has been brutal against ATL the last two games in particular.

  20. @22 Joc’s second hit in the division series was a single. His first three appearances, all pinch hits, went homer, single, homer.

  21. Hope we’re not getting too cute with Tucker starting tonight. Would have rather seen Minter but so far Snit has made pretty much all the right choices. Go Braves!

  22. @21 Snit is a daredevil if nothing else. Another young inexperienced lefty against a lefty killing lineup. All I can say is don’t give Altuve anything to hit and have Chavez ready. At least it’s not Frowny and at least Tucker has some mlb experience. My nerves are on fire.

    As for Bobby Cox I always thought he was a tremendous in season manager and an awful post season manager. A lot of his clones have the same problem but Snit isn’t one of them (big assist to AA). Bobby was too much of a “player’s manager” during a time when you manage to win. Bobby would have NEVER taken Ian out of that game. He would never pinch hit for a no bat regular even when the situation called for it. There were other aggravating things. Love the man and he deserves the HOF but he could have been better.

    I am going to ask the tough question. When is Freddie Freeman going to show up for the World Series? I hope it’s tonight. Ozzie and Duvall showing up would be nice too but they aren’t being paid 25M/year to lead this team. Is Freddie worrying about his contract again? Is he hurt? We need him to be Frederick Freeman with the bat, not this light hitting imposter.

  23. Freddie’s been streaky, but I don’t think there are any intangibles to read into. He’s fine.

  24. Good job, Kirk. I’ve got enough Whistlepig to get through about 15 innings. After that, you guys are on your own.

  25. I’m fine with Davidson starting tonight. Everyone but Fried, Anderson and Wright should be available in relief so a quick hook ought to keep the game in hand.
    On the other side, a repeat performance by Valdez would be nice. Assuming Soler starts against the lefty, should he lead off like in game 1?

  26. @15, that’s a terrific point — this appears to be a highly collaborative coaching staff. I’d also add Fasano to the list of names who appear to be towards the top of the brain trust. The pitchers all keep crediting him in their postgame interviews. I imagine that part of that with Cox must have just been natural: by the time he was a 60-something future Hall of Famer, I think it could be challenging to be Joe Schmo and contradict a living legend. Snitker, because he’s been such a road dog, I think is able to cultivate a humility that really facilitates collaboration, whereas Cox was a former GM and a living legend as a manager who may have been a bit less approachable towards the end of the run in the early 2000s.

    One thing that has really impressed me with Snit has just been his willingness to go for it. Unlike many of the regular season games where I’ve criticized him, he has not been getting cute, trying to squeeze one more inning, staying with a guy too long, rotating Arcia in just because he’s a member of the team and deserves an opportunity. He certainly also hasn’t been doing the Dave Roberts thing of mix-and-match five-dimensional chess that keeps his own team more off balance than the opponents.

    Cox sometimes got a little passive in the playoffs, just as he could be passive during the regular season — the same kind of passiveness that I criticized Snit for, when it came to keeping Will Smith in the closer role all year. Snit has actively changed it up in the playoffs. That’s been really impressive to see.

  27. The thing I’ll always remember about Bobby Cox in the playoffs was his infatuation with bunting in the late innings with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out. Never did it much with a runner only on first but if they got two of ’em on, it was almost automatic. He would do it with nearly anybody at the plate (I think Chipper and Javy were the usual exceptions) and most of the time, our opponents would calmly register the easy forceout at third to begin snuffing out the rally.

  28. The real difference between Soler’s home run and Altuve’s drive that Rosario caught the following inning, was that Soler pulled his about 20 feet further left, where the wall is closer to home plate. Statcast says Soler hit his 372 feet, and Altuve 375 feet. Hell of a catch by Rosario, too! Best I’ve ever seen from him. The previous postseasons have been littered with bad breaks and ‘what-ifs’ for the Braves, where things just didn’t break right for us even when we executed. Terrible umpiring aside, the Braves have been on the right side of things with Lady Fortune so far. It’s been a magical ride!

    BTW – you can see the player/team stat lines for the series here – https://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/2021_WS.shtml and it also includes a super Series Win Probability Chart.

  29. Lee and Davidson are the last two guys I thought Snit would use, let alone start.

    There’s a great scene in “Remember the Titans” where Denzel Washington thinks his defensive coordinator may be trying to sabotage him. (He was not.) His assistant just tells him: “Let’s see what happens. It might be all right.”

  30. I have no analytics to support this, but it seemed like both Bobby and Fredi’s teams played very tight and nervous in the postseason. I don’t have that feel with Snitker. (That may have something to do with the carefree attitudes of Acuña and Albies too.)

  31. Who would have thought the day that Acuña tore his ACL that the Braves would be in this position?

  32. @35 This just occurred to me. Say you have an unproven pitcher that your gut says can get you some outs in a World Series game. When would be the best time to use him? The answer could be “at the very beginning, so you have more time to recover if the guy craps the bed.” That’s pretty much what we saw with Lee last night and are getting with Davidson tonight.

  33. If Smyly hadn’t had a bad outing in Game 2 I think he would have been the guy yesterday or today.

    Then again, the Braves are definitely hoping for the curse of the first look since they’ve never seen Davidson or Wright.

  34. I think Snit, the playoff manager, has been better than Snit, the regular season manager. Maybe it’s because it’s end-of-season championship series’ rather than trying to slog through a full year. He’s been more willing to adapt to situations and matchups than in the regular season.

    Leading off with Davidson is a bold choice and I hope it pays off. I think it portends a Davidson/Chavez/Smyly sequence. What I hope is that Davidson surprises and gets us though the full lineup at least once while the Braves whack on Framber. I’m not so sure expecting Tucker to be better than either Lee or Smyly is wise, but if he is then we get a huge boost. I, of course, think that any use of Smyly would be a mistake but we only avoid it if Davidson goes a clean three. If we get three from Davidson and two from Chavez, I’d go Martin next and then the Night Shift. I can see that winning the game.

    I don’t think we’ve really seen a bullpen game for the Astros since Greinke went 4 (I was amused to hear Buck parrot Chip – “Greinke won’t qualify for the win”). Maybe they will only go one or two with Framber. We need to get to him early.

  35. Edit: If things don’t go perfect, I’d go Davidson, Chavez, Minter, Martin to get through 6. Let Smyly rot on the bench.

  36. When Dansby came up in the 7th, I told my wife that he looked completely clueless and that he knew he was going to make an out before he even stepped into the batter’s box. I then laughed at myself and told her “now watch him hit a homerun”. Two pitches later…

  37. If the Braves are ahead or tied, I think Snit might call on the Night Shift as early as the 5th since Minter didn’t pitch yesterday and so might be good for two innings. Maybe let Martin pitch the 5th. I’m a little worried about Jackson & Matzek going 3 days in a row, but if you have the chance to win the whole thing, you dance with the ones that brought you. If it doesn’t work, you have an off day and then two more shots.

  38. @36 Great point. I think the team plays a lot more loose for Snit and Bobby’s teams were always “business like”, which is good but sometimes makes players get tight I think. Serious all of the time isn’t always the answer.

  39. @36, 44, it’s not just the attitudes of Acuna and Albies (and Freeman, who laughs and jokes a lot during games too). I doubt any team with Heredia on it is in danger of being too serious for too long.

  40. Go Braves ! Hope they finish it off tonight. What a great exciting series and amazing comeback last night. Great crowds as well. Absolutely loving it and wish I could be there. As to Bobby, I seem to recall that the big losses (and the big wins) were not much to due with his decision making. Really, if Lonnie Smith isnt out and Wohlers doesnt hang the pitch to Leyritz, then good chance Bobby’s got three rings and no one ever questions his ability. On the other hand, if Bream is out and Lofton reaches in the ninth in game 6, then maybe Cox is like Dusty, with a great regular season track record but no jewellery. Do like Snit though.

  41. And this series does remind me of 95 and shutting down a great offense. Just need to do it for one more game. Also, like how ATL won 3 to 1 against MIL, was up 3 to 1 vs LA, and now leads HOU 3 to 1. Have fun tonight everybody !!

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