Truist Park takes center stage tonight as the World Series shifts from Houston to Atlanta, with the Braves and the Astros looking to break the deadlock.
Tied at a game apiece following Wednesday night’s dominant 7-2 Astros win — lit up by the ferocious pitching of right-hander José Urquidy — the Braves will be looking to capitalize on home advantage for Games 3, 4 and 5.
Home of the Braves since 2017, manager Brian Snitker expects the 41,000-seat capacity Truist Park — the crown jewel of The Battery Atlanta entertainment district — to be “wild” come first pitch.
“It’s been really, really good, from the first year that we played here,” Snitker said during Thursday’s off-day.
“It’s a good product — an exciting team, a fun team to watch. I think the whole Battery, Truist Park concept and all led to this being a really fun place to come and watch a game. It’s wild in here.
“It has been all year really. We’ve had great crowds from the beginning of opening things up again. I didn’t see, but they said even the last couple of nights it’s just packed in the Battery, and I know one of the coach’s wives that couldn’t make the trip said she cracked her door and felt like we were playing the game here.
“It’s an exciting place to play, to be at. It will be wild tomorrow.”
Ian Anderson — the Braves’ Game 3 starting pitcher — echoed his manager’s excitement.
“I know that there hasn’t been a World Series game here for quite some time now,” Anderson said.
“It’s definitely an honor to be starting the game tomorrow night. I think keeping my emotions in check and kind of just taking it all in is going to be a big factor.”
“It’s been awesome. We’ve kind of taken it on as an identity, and the fans and you guys and the media too have played a big part in that. I think the fans are excited. I think Atlanta sports fans are always into this time of year.
“We’ve had some success, the teams and the city have had some success. So we’re looking to get it done for them.”
‘Human nature is to overreact’
Meanwhile, for veteran Astros manager Dusty Baker, the key is to put emotion to one side.
Now into his 24th season as manager, Baker is looking for a first championship ring that has eluded him thus far, despite taking all five teams he has coached to the playoffs.
Having fallen to a 6-2 defeat in Game 1 at Minute Maid Park, the crushing victory on home soil for Game 2 will give Baker confidence ahead of tonight’s game, as the Astros seek to repeat their 2017 World Series triumph.
“I think human nature is to overreact, personally. It’s sort of short-sighted and you just see the feeling that you have at the moment,” Baker said.
“Right now, what is it, best three out of five now? We went from best four out of seven — now, it’s best three out of five.
“That’s how you’ve got to look at it, whether you lose three still, you’ve got to win four.”
Human nature may be to overreact, but apparently dolphin nature is to predict — Clearwater Aquarium’s dolphin Nick has chosen the Braves to take the World Series.
A rescue dolphin at the Florida-based aquarium since 2002, Nick has etched his name into the ever-proliferating list of sports-predicting animals by forecasting major sporting events with admirable accuracy since 2017.
He went 5-1 in his first season with correct calls on the College Football National Championship, Super Bowl, NCAA Basketball Championship, Stanley Cup and the World Series — correctly picking none other than the Houston Astros.
Ominously for the Astros this time around, Nick began the year with four straight correct predictions, though they will take heart from an erroneous choice of the Kansas City Chiefs for the Super Bowl.
Is the flippered phenom an heir to Paul the Octopus? Only time will tell. Game 3 is tonight at 8:09 p.m. ET.