Near

HOUSTON (AP) — Twice in the same game 10 years ago, Ron Washington was within one strike of winning the World Series as a manager. The beloved baseball lifer is now finally getting another shot at a championship.

Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington watches during batting practice before Game 1 in baseball's World Series against the Houston Astros Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) © Provided by Associated Press Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington watches during batting practice before Game 1 in baseball's World Series against the Houston Astros Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

A decade after that Game 6 loss while guiding the Texas Rangers, Washington is emphatically waving Atlanta Braves runners around third base. There are also the daily fielding drills he does, even before World Series games in late October, with All-Star second baseman Ozzie Albies, Gold Glove first baseman Freddie Freeman and all of their infielders.

“I'd just like to win it, and I think if I've got that chance to do it, it's going to be this group,” Washington said. “This is my expertise. If I can’t manage, this is the second-best thing that I can do in the game of baseball.”

Still, Washington can't help but remember how agonizingly close Texas was before losing in 11 innings at St. Louis exactly 10 years ago Wednesday night before also dropping Game 7.

This series is even at a game each after Houston won 7-2 on Wednesday night. The next three games are in Atlanta, with Game 3 on Friday night.

Washington's passion for the game is still unwavering at age 69 after five decades in professional baseball as a player and coach, including the Rangers winning their only two American League pennants and making back-to-back World Series appearances with him as their manager.

Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies talks with third base coach Ron Washington before Game 2 of baseball's National League Divisional Series against the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash) © Provided by Associated Press Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies talks with third base coach Ron Washington before Game 2 of baseball's National League Divisional Series against the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Now in his fifth season on manager Brian Snitker's staff in Atlanta, the third base coach has certainly been a huge part in the Braves being back in the World Series for the first time since 1999.

“He’s the most engaging, charismatic, best-connecting coach I’ve seen," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “Obviously, he’s got great content. I don’t want to take away from that. But, man, that guy is just like, anybody who gets to spend time with him, he’ll get you to run through a wall in two seconds.”

There are aggressive and confident sends in crucial situations, such as consecutive plays with Braves down two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series. Two close plays at the plate, the first Eddie Rosario with a nifty slide after a late jump, but two runs to tie the game before beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ninth.

From left to right, Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley and Freddie Freeman work with third base coach Ron Washington at Minute Maid Park during team practice the day before playing the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Houston. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) © Provided by Associated Press From left to right, Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley and Freddie Freeman work with third base coach Ron Washington at Minute Maid Park during team practice the day before playing the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Houston. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Even with Atlanta already up 5-1 in Game 1 of the World Series, Washington sent Dansby Swanson home on a shallow flyball in the eighth inning. Another run on another close play.


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