Ian Anderson wasn’t even 18 months old the last time the Atlanta Braves played in the World Series.
The wait for the next one will continue for the Braves, but the 22-year-old former Shenendehowa star pitcher was right in the middle of Atlanta’s latest attempt to get there, only to see the Braves fall short of the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Anderson, whose major league debut was just seven weeks ago, started Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday night and pitched the first three innings, leaving with a 2-2 tie before Dodgers went on to pull out a 4-3 victory.
L.A. will face the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday.
The Dodgers won it with a game-tying pinch-hit home run by Kike Hernandez in the bottom of the sixth inning and Cody Bellinger’s solo shot with two outs in the seventh to produce the final score.
The Braves gave Anderson a run in the top of the first and another in the second, but he allowed a two-run single to Will Smith with two outs in the bottom of the third to tie it at 2-2.
He left the game having thrown 73 pitches, 43 for strikes, and giving up a run for the first time in four postseason starts. Anderson threw 18 1/3 scoreless innings before the Dodgers tagged him for two on Sunday, a remarkable achievement for a rookie pitcher who was called up in August.
“He was getting a little rattled,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “The command wasn’t great. I thought the last inning he got two quick outs and maybe was going to catch up and get his pitches back together. He started having trouble commanding some things, his fastball, and even a few of his changeups were off. He was off a little bit. That’s OK. He’s had an unbelievable postseason. He only gave up two runs in his whole postseason career as a major leaguer. It could happen to anybody. That kid had an unbelievable year, an unbelievable postseason and we’re really excited about this boy’s future.”
“There was a lot of energy, that’s for sure,” Anderson said. “I wish I could’ve been out there a little bit longer, given a bit more, but at the end of the day, I left everything out there, and I know everyone in the lockerroom left everything out there.”
The Braves scored one in the top of the first on an RBI single by Marcell Ozuna, then Anderson survived a leadoff single by Mookie Betts in the bottom half, striking out cleanup hitter Max Muncy.
Anderson had the benefit of a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second, thanks to a leadoff homer by Dansby Swanson, and used the strikeout again to get out of a second-and-third jam, as Chris Taylor went down swinging to end the second.
After two quick outs in the bottom of the third, Anderson walked Justin Turner, gave up a double to Muncy, followed by Smith’s single through the hole between first and second base to tie it at 2-2.
“I had a chance to put Turner away and let him get back in it and ended up walking him. Same kind of thing with Muncy,” Anderson said. “I was able to get ahead of him, and he put a good swing on that pitch and hit it down the line. Smith had a good at-bat, too. That’s just kind of the way it goes sometimes.”
Atlanta went ahead 3-2 in the top of the fourth on walks to Ozzie Albies and Swanson, then a single by Austin Riley, but the Dodgers dodged a big bullet by getting two outs on the basepaths on Nick Markakis’ grounder. Swanson was tagged in a rundown between third and home, and Riley was thrown out trying to get to third.
The Dodgers tied it 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth when Hernandez, pinch-hitting for Joc Pederson, hit a leadoff homer of A.J. Minter.
After Bellinger hit the go-ahead homer, the Braves failed to muster any threat to tie it over their last six outs.
“Everyone in there who took part in this series, this experience and what went on out there, it sucks that the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but it’s going to be super-beneficial for everyone going forward,” Anderson said.
“I definitely learned quite a bit, just that I have what it takes to be up here and contribute to the team. I think everyone in that lockerroom learned something about themselves as the playoffs unfolded and the season unfolded, all the sacrifices that everyone had to make. I think it showed. It’s such a tight group in there.”