HOUSTON – Rookie Ian Anderson pitched like an October veteran. Old pro Nick Markakis threw the best strike of the game. And just like that, the Atlanta Braves are on the verge of something they haven't done since the days of Chipper, the Big Three and Bobby Cox.
Anderson blanked Miami into the sixth inning, Markakis made a nifty play in right field to help preserve the lead late, and the Braves threw another playoff shutout in a 2-0 victory Wednesday for a 2-0 lead in the NL Division Series.
The Braves have pitched three shutouts in four games during this year's playoffs. They're just the third team in MLB history to toss three shutouts in the first four games of a postseason, joining the 1966 Baltimore Orioles and the 1905 New York Giants.
Travis d'Arnaud and Dansby Swanson each homered for the second straight day, putting the Braves one win away from a sweep in the best-of-five matchup. Game 3 is Thursday in Houston.
“It’s hard to bunch hits together, pitching is too good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Power, I think is something that plays in the postseason and was witnessed today.”
Atlanta hasn't reached the NL Championship Series since 2001 when Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz played under Cox.
The Braves have lost in the division series eight times since then, including in the last two seasons — a fact star slugger Freddie Freeman said put a chip on their shoulders entering this round.
Anderson scattered three hits and struck out eight over 5 2/3 innings. The lanky right-hander who made his major league debut in late August added to his impressive outing last week in the wild-card series when he fanned nine in six scoreless frames against Cincinnati.