Atlanta Braves defeat Houston Astros to win 2021 World Series originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Atlanta's championship drought is over.
The Atlanta Braves defeated the Houston Astros 7-0 in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday to capture their first championship - and the city's - since 1995.
For a team that won just 88 games during the regular season, lost its best player to injury in July, and squandered an early but comfortable Game 5 lead, a long-awaited title-clinching victory came with far less adversity.
"This is everything we've worked for," Freddie Freeman said on FOX after the game. "We're in November right now, we've been doing this since February and we've had so many ups and downs this year. And for us to be World Champions. That is awesome to hear."
A series that began with a home run by Jorge Soler essentially ended in the same manner. Soler crushed a 446-foot homer out of the stadium in the third inning to give the Braves a 3-0 lead that was never threatened.
It was the third home run of the series for Soler, all of the go-ahead variety. Soler was acquired at the trade deadline in July on a day the Braves filled a void created when Ronald Acuna Jr. suffered a torn ACL and revamped their outfield by also adding Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall. He hit .300 with three home runs and six RBIs in the World Series to earn MVP.
"Thanks to God for the opportunity to be on this team," Soler said through an interpreter after the game. "I'm extremely excited to be the second Cuban-born player to win this award (joining the Marlins' Livan Hernandez)."
In the Braves' Game 4 win, it was Soler and Dansby Swanson who hit back-to-back home runs to put Atlanta in front, and that same duo struck again in Game 6.
Swanson - a Georgia native - increased the Braves' lead to 5-0 in the fifth with a two-run homer.
"I've said it before and I'll keep saying it, I'm an Atlanta lifer," Swanson said. "I live and die the city of Atlanta, and there's no place that deserves it more than the city of Atlanta...You can't even put into words just how much this means, not for me, but this entire organization, the entire city."
Freeman followed with an RBI double in the fifth and a solo home run in the seventh to make it 7-0.
Max Fried, who entered Game 6 having allowed a combined 11 earned runs over his previous two starts, shut down a high-powered Astros team playing in its third World Series in five years.
Fried threw six shutout innings, allowing four hits, walking none and striking out six. He escaped a two-on, no-out jam in the first unscathed, even after having his ankle stepped on by Michael Brantley while covering first base.
Nine outs from winning the World Series, the Braves turned to what has been a mostly untouchable bullpen throughout the postseason.
Tyler Matzek allowed one hit over two scoreless innings, striking out the side in the eighth. Will Smith closed it out in the ninth as the Braves blanked the Astros, who watched the World Series champion celebrate in their stadium for the second time in three seasons (Washington Nationals in 2019).
That set off a wild celebration on the field in Houston and back in Atlanta at Truist Park, where fans attended a watch party. In between the Braves' 1995 and 2021 championships, the city of Atlanta has lost the Thrashers to Winnipeg, seen the Hawks get no further than the Eastern Conference Finals and watched the Falcons surrender a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl.
All of that, at least for one night, is forgotten with the Braves returning home with the World Series trophy.
The drought is over.
"We've been waiting for a championship in this city for a long time," Freeman said. "And I'm glad we delivered it."