Game 3 a throwback with batters facing pitchers for 1st time

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Houston Astros starting pitcher Luis Garcia throws against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning in Game 6 of baseball's American League Championship Series Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

ATLANTA – Game 3 of the World Series will be a bit of a throwback to the days before interleague play and players frequently changing teams.

None of the Atlanta Braves have faced Houston starter Luis Garcia. The only Astros player who has hit against the Braves starter Ian Anderson is Marwin Gonzalez, who is 0 for 3.

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“Definitely going to try to use that to my advantage,” Anderson said Thursday as the Series shifted to rainy Truist Park following a split in Houston. “I think with my pitch mix it definitely helps me out a little bit with the fastball/changeup. Definitely going to try to be on the attack, feed off the energy of the crowd, and put the pressure on them.”

Back in the day, batters frequently had no experience against the pitchers they faced in the Series. But with free agency starting after the 1976 season and interleague play in 1997, hitters and pitchers have more frequent personal experience against each other.

Astros manager Dusty Baker thinks each starting pitcher will have the advantage Friday.

“If you’ve never seen him, you can watch film all you want to, but then until you see his release point," the former All-Star outfielder said.

A quick big hit can change the dynamic.

“Hank Aaron used to say, if you’ve never faced a pitcher, you initiate him right away and then kind of kill his spirits,” Baker said. “So hopefully, we can initiate him.”

Anderson is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three postseason starts this year and Garcia is 1-1 with a 9.64 ERA. Garcia pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 6 against Boston on Oct. 22, when his fastball averaged 96.8 mph, up from 93.3 mph six days earlier after tweaking foot positioning in his delivery.


Astros pitcher Luis Garcia, 0 for 6 at the plate in his big league career, will borrow a bat from teammate Yordan Álvarez for his trips to the plate in Game 3 of the World Series.

With the game in a National League park, there's no designated hitter.

Major League Baseball and the players' association may extend the DH to the NL starting in 2022, which means this weekend could mark the final big league plate appearances ever by pitchers — except for anomalies like Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani and some rare pinch-hit appearances in extra innings. The AL has used the DH since 1973, and both leagues used it during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season.

“Once it ever changes to no DH, then it will probably never change back, and that’s something that would sadden me," Astros manager Dusty Baker said.

Houston's Zack Greinke, who may start Game 4, is a career .225 hitter with nine home runs in 18 seasons. Atlanta's Max Fried, who didn't bat in Game 2 at the AL city, had five RBIs this season.

Anderson is 2 for 37 (.054) with 29 strikeouts and no RBIs.


Rain wiped out the Astros' planned batting practice Thursday. The forecast for Friday night called for a 40% chance of rain and a gametime temperature of 51.


Braves pitcher Charlie Morton went to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to have his broken right fibula examined, and manager Brian Snitker said he doubted the pitcher will be attend Friday night's game.

“I think he’ll be here before the weekend is over,” Snitker said.


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