Washington – The Atlanta Braves, unbeaten at home in this year’s playoffs, will try to reclaim the lead in the World Series when they meet the Houston Astros on Friday in Atlanta.
The Braves will be trying to bounce back from a 7-2 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday that evened the series at 1-1.
“Realistically, you want to win two,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “But if you can split and go home, where we’ve been really good, that’s a positive.”
While the team plays on the field, Braves fans in the stands will be delivering the controversial “Tomahawk Chop” cheer in what some see as an insult to Native Americans.
The Braves are 5-0 at home in this year’s playoffs, but have a five-game home losing streak in World Series contests from 1996 and 1999.
“The atmosphere is awesome,” Snitker said of home games. “Braves Country is real.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred backed the team’s nickname and “Tomahawk Chop” cheer this week, saying Native Americans in the Atlanta area are “fully supportive of the Braves’ program, including the chop. For me, that’s kind of the end of the story.”
National Council of American Indians president Fawn Sharp ripped Manfred’s comments, saying the group has repeatedly told the Braves that “Native people are not mascots and degrading rituals like the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ that dehumanize and harm us have no place in American society.”
Earlier this year, the Cleveland Indians decided to retire their nickname and play as the Cleveland Guardians from next season.
Ian Anderson, a 23-year-old right-hander, will be Atlanta’s starting pitcher for Game 3 against 24-year-old Venezuelan right-hander Luis Garcia for Houston.
It’s only the eighth time in World Series history, and first time since 2006, that two rookies will start.
Garcia has had a week off since allowing only one hit over 5⅔ innings in the Astros’ pennant-clinching win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the ALCS.
Atlanta lost star pitcher Charlie Morton to a broken leg during its Game 1 victory, meaning the Braves will be relying on relief pitchers for key innings over the remainder of the series.
“The bullpen is going to play a big part in what we’ve got going on because we lost a huge starter,” Snitker said. “So we’re going to have probably two games (Saturday and Sunday) we’re going to pitch 18 innings out of that bullpen.”
The Braves core of top relievers — A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson and Will Smith — will be working on two days’ rest on Friday but know they might be needed for the weekend.
“The whole roster is going to have to be used just because of the situation we’re in,” Snitker said. “So we’ll just try and piece it together the best we can.”
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