The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers continued the battle between baseball giants on Friday evening.
After a nail-biting 8-7 win on Thursday, Atlanta hoped they could pull out another win in game two with ace Max Fried on the mound. Fried has struggled just a tad since returning from the IL but Friday saw the southpaw return to form.
Fried held the Dodgers scoreless through 7 innings of dominant pitching. He allowed just 2 hits with 2 walks and 10 strikeouts (which was a season high). This decreased Max's ERA down to 2.52 and earned his 6th win of 2023.
The Braves' offense continued to show off as they scored 6 more runs during the game. Three of those runs came via home runs.
Travis d'Arnaud got things started with a solo shot in the top of the second inning but that's all the Braves would get in the inning. Eddie Rosario had tried to steal home during the inning with runners on second and third which killed the inning.
However, Ronald Acuna Jr. decided that wasn't enough as he led off the third inning with a blast to center field. This series has lit a fire under Acuna as he is currently 5-for-8 in the series with 2 home runs, 5 runs batted in, and 2 stolen bases. He now has 31 home runs, 84 RBI, and 63 stolen bases on the season.
He leads in a few different offensive categories including stolen bases (63), hits (183), runs (122), and on-base percentage (.420). Ronald is 4th in batting average and OPS with a .338 average and 1.000 OPS. His .580 slugging percentage is 5th best in all of baseball.
Marcell Ozuna then led off the fourth inning with a solo home which continues the ridiculous stretch he's been on lately. Ozuna finds himself on an 11-game hit streak where he is batting .488/.544/1.171 with a 1.714 OPS. That home run was also the 1300th hit of his career.
He has 20 hits including 4 2B, 8 HR, 16 RBI, 5 BB, and 7 K over that stretch as well. Ozuna went from being one of the worst parts of this team early in the season to becoming one of the absolute cornerstones of the offense.
Atlanta's offense added 3 more runs through the course of the game. They scored two in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Austin Riley and an RBI single from Marcell Ozuna. The final run came in the top of the 8th via an RBI single from Eddie Rosario.
The Braves bullpen did run into a bit of trouble in the 8th inning. The inning started with a 6-0 Braves lead. It ended with a 6-3 Braves lead. So, what happened?
Pierce Johnson, who has been so good for the Braves since coming over from Colorado, checked into the game and struggled a bit. He got the first out of the inning with no problem but allowed a single to the next batter.
Johnson was able to get a ground ball that should have resulted in at least one out but that didn't happen due to Ozzie Albies bobbling the ball and getting zero outs. This gave LA the chance to get back in the game with two runners on and just one out.
For some reason, Dave Roberts pulled Mookie Betts for a pinch hitter and brought in David Peralta who would strike out to become the second out of the inning. Roberts then pinch hit for Freddie Freeman for Kolton Wong. This move would pay off as Wong hit a 3-run home run to right field in his first at-bat with LA.
That seemed to break Pierce as he issued a walk to Max Muncy and allowed a single to Ahmed Rosario. This ended his night as Brian Snitker brought in Michael Tonkin to put out the fire. Tonkin struck out Chris Taylor to strand those runners on base and preserve the 3-run lead.
Kirby Yates recorded the final 3 outs and allowed just one walk in the inning with two outs. He got Jason Heyward to fly out for the final out of the game and give the Braves a shot at a series win on Saturday evening. At worst, the team comes away with a split against one of the best teams in baseball on the West Coast which hasn't always been kind to Atlanta.
The Braves record is now 89-45 as they push to become the first team in baseball to reach the 90-win mark. Bryce Elder gets the ball in game 3 on Saturday for Atlanta. The Dodgers have yet to announce a starter but it's expected they'll have a bullpen game.
The one glaring difference between these two teams right now is in the starting pitching department. The Braves are much deeper and that has paid off big time for them in this series. Hopefully, that trend continues tonight from Chavez Ravine.