The Braves look to get back on track after a tough first two games against the St. Louis Cardinals. While Braves hitters have been batting well, Atlanta has been getting behind early, giving up eight homers in the previous two games. The Cardinals have been patient in the box, putting pressure on starters Soroka and Strider.
Max Fried will be on the mound to correct the issue, returning after a strong outing against the Dodgers. Fried pitched seven scoreless innings against his hometown team and will have a favorable matchup against Adam Wainwright. The Georgia native is appearing in his final start against the Braves after being drafted by Atlanta in 2000.
St. Louis got off to a hot start as Tommy Edham hit a fastball down center for a single. Fried would bounce back with a soft fly-out from Tyler O'Neill, then striking out Paul Goldschmidt on four pitches. After getting the two outs, Edham attempted to steal second, but was beat on a perfect throw by d'Arnaud, while Ozzie gave a no-look tag.
Ronald Acuña Jr. set the tone for the Atlanta bats. On Wainwright's first pitch, Acuña hit a line drive to deep center for his 32nd lead-off home run of his career. The solo shot was his 33rd of the season, going 445 feet. Ozzie Albies followed the home run with a four-pitch walk before Matt Olson smoked a double to right-center. Marcell Ozuna followed, striking out on a perfect pitch to get the first out of the bottom of the first. Eddie Rosario followed with a double to right field to bring home Albies and Olson. The game now 3-0, Wainwright got out of the inning, popping out d'Arnaud and grounding out Michael Harris II.
The Cardinals put some base runners in the bottom of the second. Arenado received his second chance at the plate, knocking a single to left-center before Jordan Walker hit into a fielder's choice. The third batter, Luken Baker, walked on five pitches, as Nolan Gorman followed with a single to load the bases with one out. Seeming to struggle with his command, Fried drilled Knizner's back knee to walk in a run.
With a quick mound visit from Rick Kranitz, Fried struck out Masyn Winn for the second out. The Cards tied the game as Edham hit a ball to center. While one run scored, Harris threw a bullet home that was a bit too high. The play was called out, but St. Louis reviewed the tag. Transparently, it was difficult to see how the call was overturned, until a late look from the Cards broadcast showed Baker just beating the tag.
Not much would happen for either team in their next respective half-inning. However, Olson led off the bottom of the third with a seven-pitch walk, bringing up Ozuna, who just got under a fastball to fly out to right field. Eddie Rosario followed with a soft ground ball, moving Olson to second. For the last out, d'Arnaud put up a tough at-bat for the last outD'Arnaud, but just missed another fastball to fly out to left field.
Atlanta kicked off the fourth with Harris making a jumping catch on Baker. Still a bit wild, Fried walked Gorman on five pitches. Two pitches later, the defense helped Max turning a 6-4-3inning-ending double play.
Since the first inning, Wainwright pitched much better giving up only two walks through the next three innings. The bottom of the fourth went 1-2-3 as he recorded three quick outs on the bottom of the Atlanta order.
Fried went through the bottom of the fifth, but the Cards made it interesting. St. Louis put runners on the corners with singles from O'Neill and Goldschmidt, both with two outs. Nevertheless, Arenado hit a soft fly to right center for the final out, keeping the game at 3-3.
Acuña led off the bottom of the fifth, drilling another ball to center. Edman got a great hop, making a leaping catch into the wall. As Yogi Berra says, "Déjà vu all over again.", Albies hit the second straight shot to deep center, where Edman made a jumping catch to prevent extra bases. The third hit to center went a bit differently.
Matt Olson got a hold of a hanging pitch, knocking it 430 feet for his 47th of the year. The solo homerun gave Atlanta the lead back at 4-3. The Braves continued the inning with their hottest hitter, Ozuna, tapping a single to left center. Following the single, Rosario hit a hard groundball off Goldschmidt's glove to put runners at first and second. However, that would be all the damage, as d'Arnaud struck a soft fly to center, ending the inning.
Max came out in the top of the sixth, giving the bullpen a much-needed break. He would make it three pitches before Turner Ward had enough of umpire Laz Diaz. Diaz went to eject Ward, prompting a casual conversation between Laz and Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol. Once the chaos settled, Fried would retire the side, with only one warning track fly to Rosario.
Michael Harris II has hit well vs. Wainwright throughout his career. He was batting 1.000 going to the game and started the sixth with his first homerun against Adam. Another solo home run gave the Braves a 5-3 lead and was his 14th of the year. After two quick outs, the Cards decided to keep Wainwright in the game out of respect. In a pretty good pitch down and away, Acuña nailed his second home run to bring the score 6-3.
The home run would be his last pitch against Atlanta. The 18-year veteran, born in Southeast Georgia, was drafted by Atlanta in 2000. While he was hit well this evening, he played the Braves well over his career and was a cornerstone piece for the Cards' 2006 World Series.
Pierce Johnson replaced Fried in the seventh. Johnson filled in nicely, going 1-2-3 and striking out two. Fried pitched well, giving the Braves stability after the Cards drilled Atlanta in the first few games. While his command was iffy at times, he was able to get out of trouble besides the second inning.
After the stretch, Jacob Barnes came into relief for the Cards. He was able to put away Olson and Ozuna for the first two outs before Rosario hit a soft single to left. Next pitch, d'Arnaud hit a 429-foot shot to Center, putting the score 8-3. The two-run homer was d'Arnaud's 11th homer this year and the Braves 11th of the series.
The eight started with an A.J. Minter strikeout of O'Neill. Goldschmidt put up an eight-pitch at bat before Minter struck him out on a fastball looking. Close to striking out the side, Arenado hit a tricky ground ball to Orlando Arcia, leading to a nice Olson scoop to bring St. Louis to their final three outs.
The Braves went down in order to end the eighth, bringing St. Louis back to the plate for the final inning. Closer Raisel Iglesias came out in a non-save opportunity but sought to preserve the win. Jordan Walker came up first, hitting a solid line drive to right-center. Michael Harris made a great jump, preventing extra bases on an overhead catch. The next batter, Alec Burleson, worked a full count before taking a walk. Gorman followed with a double, putting runners at second and third with one out. Cardinals would bring in Las Nootbaar to pinch hit, who worked a walk to load the bases.
St. Louis got their fourth run on a Masyn Winn single, keeping the bases loaded. The next batter, Tommy Edman, hit a sac fly to make it 8-5. In a drama-filled ninth inning, O'Neill hit a hard line drive to left field. Rosario quickly reached the spot, creating an incredible sliding catch to finish the game.
Overall, it was a good bounce-back from the Braves. They knocked five homeruns while keeping the Cards out of reach for most of the match. Fried continued his dominance and did not allow a homer, which St. Louis hit eight of in the previous two games. While the second and ninth innings were rocky, the Cardinals could never take full advantage of their rallies.
Pitchers of Record
W: Max Fried: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 103 NPIT
L: Adam Wainwright : 5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 104 NPIT
Pierce Johnson: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 12 NPIT
A.J. Minter: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 15 NPIT
Raisel Iglesias: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 30 NPIT
Ronald Acuña Jr. ( 33, 34 )
Matt Olson ( 47 )
Michael Harris II ( 14 )
Travis d'Arnaud ( 11 )
September 8th vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:20 p.m. EST on BSSE