After a frustrating game to start their series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, the Braves got back on track thanks to a tremendous start from Max Fried (both on the mound and at the plate), Joc Pederson’s first home run as a Brave, and a whole lot of offense as Atlanta blanked the Rays by the score of 9-0.
Max Fried got the start for the Braves on Saturday evening and he was locked in all evening. After allowing a single to Wander Franco in the first inning, he promptly picked him off and retired the next seven batters before giving up another single. That was pretty much the pattern all night as he yielded just four singles scattered across seven innings of work, but the Rays couldn’t do anything else against him. His final line on the evening was 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, and 7 K.
Speaking of Fried, he also got things done at the plate this evening, as he went 3-3 with a double, two RBI, and two runs scored. There were no shortage of memes out there on the internets talking about batting him fifth and making fun of the Rays for walking Kevan Smith to get to Fried’s spot in the order.
The scoring for the Braves started in the bottom of the fourth inning and it turned into quite the frame for Atlanta. After Freddie Freeman singled to lead off the inning, Ozzie Albies hit a low pitch over the head of Brett Phillips in center, scoring Freeman and giving Albies a triple. Austin Riley then brought Albies home on a sac fly. With two outs, Guillermo Heredia hit a ground-rule double that was very nearly a foul ball, the Rays intentionally walked Kevan Smith, and Max Fried came up clutch with a two-run double that stretched the Braves’ lead to 4-0.
The fun continued when Joc Pederson, in his first start in a Braves’ uniform, connected on a 1-0 pitch for a two-run homer to right-ish center to give the Braves’ a healthy 6-0 lead.
Freeman, who has been on an absolute tear of late, wasn’t going to be denied a longball of his own in the rout, as he hit a solo homer of his own in the bottom of the fifth inning. The homer was his 21st of the season.
The sixth inning was more of the same, as Dansby Swanson connected for an RBI double after Smith walked and Fried moved him over with yet another hit with runners on base. Freeman then drove in Fried with a sac fly and just like that, the rout was locked in.
Once Fried exited the game, the question of whether the bullpen would make this game more interesting than it needed to be became very relevant. Fortunately, this one was rather painless as Edgar Santana and Tyler Matzek pitched scoreless innings of relief without any unnecessary drama to close the game out.