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World Series Matchup Set: Braves Take On Astros

October 26, 2021
World Series preview 2021

This isn’t the World Series matchup most bettors were counting on, but it’s the one we’ll get, as the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros won their respective championship series to advance to the championship round.

The Braves advanced by defeating the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2 in the National League Championship Series. Although the Dodgers had won 18 more games in the regular season than Atlanta, the Braves had the home-field advantage, which was key in the series victory.

Houston defeated the Boston Red Sox by a 4-2 margin in the American League Championship Series to advance to the World Series for the third time in five seasons. The Astros fell behind 2-1 against Boston but won three straight to win the American League title.

Improbable Winner

Atlanta wasn’t among the top teams in the MLB odds heading into the postseason, as it had the worst record of any of the five playoff teams in the National League, which included the 107-win San Francisco Giants and 106-win Dodgers. The Braves won the NL East, though, so they got to avoid both of those teams until the NLCS, facing the Milwaukee Brewers in the divisional series.

After upsetting Milwaukee in four games, the Braves took on the Dodgers, who were coming off a tight five-game series with the Giants. Atlanta won the first two games at home, then took Game 4 for a 3-1 series lead. It was the same series advantage the Braves had last year in the NLCS against the Dodgers, but Los Angeles won three straight in 2020 to move on to the World Series.

Los Angeles took Game 5 this season to stay alive and send the series back to Atlanta, but the Braves came through with a 4-2 win on Saturday night to end the Dodgers’ hopes of a comeback for the second year in a row.

NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario’s three-run home run broke a 1-1 tie in Game 6, propelling the Braves to the victory.

“It’s truly a great moment, not just in my career, but in my life as well, but I want more,” Rosario said after the Game 6 win. “I want to win the World Series.” 

It’s the Braves’ first World Series appearance since 1999, which ended a string of five appearances in eight seasons for Atlanta. The Braves won the title in 1995.

Familiar Participant

The Astros defeated the Dodgers in 2017 in the much-ballyhooed series that was found to feature cheating by Houston. The team was in the 2019 World Series as well but fell in seven games to the Washington Nationals.

Now Houston is back again and looking for some redemption after the scandal. The Astros had the second-best record of the American League playoff teams but were overlooked a bit when people were making their MLB picks of who would advance to the World Series.

After topping the Chicago White Sox in the divisional series, 3-1, the Astros fell behind the Red Sox, 2-1 in the ALCS. But after allowing 25 runs to Boston in the first three games of the series, Houston’s pitching staff came alive, allowing just three runs over the final three contests as the Astros won all three easily.

Yordan Alvarez was named MVP of the ALCS after going 4-for-4 with a double and a triple in the series-clinching win. He hit .522 with a homer, five extra-base hits, seven runs scored, and six RBIs in the series.

“Really, it was incredible,” Alvarez said through interpreter Andrew Dunn-Bauman after the Game 6 victory. “I didn’t really imagine myself being able to come out of that surgery on both knees and be able to do this as quickly as I did. So it was really unbelievable for me to be able to come back and do what I did, but (I’m) just super happy to be here and be able to contribute like that.” 

Astros Favored 

Houston is the early MLB betting favorite to win the World Series, getting a -140 moneyline on BetUS. Atlanta is listed at +110 to win the series, which will begin in Houston on Tuesday.

Left-hander Framber Valdez will be on the mound for the Astros in Game 1, while right-hander Charlie Morton will go for the Braves.

Astros right-hander Lance McCullers is all but out for the World Series after missing the ALCS with forearm tightness. That’s the only major injury either team has to worry about heading into the series.