The Atlanta Braves struck the first blow Friday taking the first game of a pivotal three-game series against the New York Mets, 5-2. That win pulled Atlanta back into a tie for the NL East lead. It was the second straight time that the Braves have defeated Jacob deGrom who struck out 11, but allowed three solo home runs and exited after the sixth inning.
Max Fried went head to head with deGrom despite not feeling well when the game started. He allowed a single run in the second which came as a result of a misplayed fly ball by Eddie Rosario in left field. That inning could have gone sideways if not for a double play off the bat of rookie Francisco Alvarez.
Fried retired the last 10 batters he faced and then was caught on camera throwing up into a trash can in the dugout after the fifth inning. Brian Snitker said that he didn’t find out that Fried was sick until after the game had started.
“Yeah, I don’t think he felt great when he started the game,” Snitker said.
It was hard to tell by his performance as he continued to battle his way through five strong innings and exited after throwing just 71 pitches. He allowed four hits, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.
“He threw the ball really well,” Snitker added. “The velocity wasn’t where it normally is, but everything else was really good.”
The Braves have seen Fried step up at this time of the year and Friday’s performance got them off to a good start. After giving up the single run in the second, the Braves offense answered back with back-to-back home runs by Austin Riley and Matt Olson off of deGrom.
“Like I said, it’s that competitor,” Riley said when asked about Fried. “I think he felt sick probably the whole day and just was like, I’m not giving this one up.
“To get the first one is huge,” Riley added when asked about the significance of winning the first game in the series. “You just try to build as much momentum off of it as possible. You come out fighting and top to bottom did a great job. Arms did great, just a solid win.”
While there has been a lot of talk about Olson’s recent struggles, Riley came into the game having not driven in a run in nine-straight games. He said before the game that sometimes you only need one barrel to get things going. He got that in the second when drove a hanging slider from deGrom over the wall in center for his 38th home run of the season.
“Luckily, he just left one over the plate, and I was able to put a good swing on it,” Riley said of the homer. “Guys like deGrom, you can’t miss those pitches. You saw the two at-bats after he painted and I got sent to the dugout.”
Olson followed with his 31st home run of the season. He finished with two hits and extended his hitting streak to five-straight and has now homered in three of his last four.
“It’s huge, just feeling that confidence,” Riley said of Olson’s home run and recent turnaround. “I think the hidden side of the game is you’re always trying to build that confidence. You’re always trying to put together consistent at-bats. I think that just builds on it. And then what he’s doing the last four or five days is nice to see.”
Collin McHugh replaced Fried in the sixth and the Braves bullpen allowed one run over the final four innings, although things again got sticky for Kenley Jansen in the ninth.
Snitker talked about the versatility that McHugh and Raisel Iglesias have showed and how that is going to be an asset heading into the postseason.
“They do a lot of things, they’re versatile guys,” Snitker said of Iglesias and McHugh. “Iggy likes to pitch, he’s always ready to go, he’s really good with being efficient where you don’t feel bad if he puts an inning down and then goes back out. Collin has been putting innings down, going back, giving us two or three.”
The Braves will face another tough matchup Saturday in Max Scherzer. Kyle Wright will start for Atlanta in what is sure to be another game with a playoff atmosphere at Truist Park.
“It is just how you come to expect it here,” Snitker said of the fans at Truist Park. “A lot of energy. The place is packed. This is kind of like a second playoff series here. A lot of energy in the ballpark.”