Atlanta Braves and Max Fried Aren’t Ready to Give up the NL East
After digging themselves a whole in the NL East, the Atlanta Braves won a must-win series to keep their division hopes alive thanks to their ace.
There is no understating just how huge of a series win the Atlanta Braves just got against the NL East-leading New York Mets was.
Even if you split that series you remain 5.5 games back with just 42 games left, while the Mets have a pretty soft schedule in September.
Thursday’s game was indeed a must-win and a two-game swing in the standings, so there is no one else Atlanta would rather have on the mound than Max Fried.
The ace lefty out-dueled Jacob deGrom through 7 innings allowing just 2 earned runs on 4 hits with no walks and 6 strikeouts.
That after not pitching for 12 does following a concussion he sustained in New York.
Fried really only ran into trouble two times in this game. Once in the third inning with the Mets put runners on the corners with no outs.
But the Braves ace calmly struck out the next two batters on 7 pitches and then got Starling Marte to tap back to the mound where the Gold Glover made the play — and made several great plays on the night.
The other trouble spot came in the fifth when he allowed a leadoff single to Jeff McNeil and then hung a slider to Mark Canha who fouled off some tough pitches before putting that hanger in the seats to tie the game.
deGrom was his usual dominant self, but his slider wasn’t as sharp in the third inning and the Braves made him pay as Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley came up with a pair of RBI hits.
And then Vaughn Grissom had the at-bat of the game in the 7th getting an infield single after a tough eight-pitch at-bat against deGrom that forced him to leave the game after a season-high 95 pitches.
Next up was the other 21-year-old who worked a seven-pitch at-bat before single through the shifted infield allowing Grissom — who was off on the 3-2 pitch — to score from first for the game-winning run.
Even if the Braves don’t come back to win the division, this series has to give them a lot of confidence going forward.
The starting pitching was fabulous — outside of Jake Odorizzi — and the at-bats were much better against Max Scherzer and deGrom.
Now just 3.5 games back, the Atlanta Braves give themselves a chance over the last 42 games to make a run at the NL East for a fifth straight year.