Things got exciting at the end, but ultimately the Braves fell 7-6 in Game 1 of the NLDS after a rough outing from their ace Max Fried..
Fried had easily one of his worst starts of the season, and it was evident early on, he didn’t have much in the tank for today. After getting the first two guys out in the first inning, Fried then gave up four consecutive singles, the last two driving in runs and the Braves very quickly fell into a 2-0 hole.
The offense looked like it was going to immediately respond with runs in the bottom half after a leadoff double from Ronald Acuna Jr. Dansby Swanson followed with a strikeout, a theme we’ll get back to, and then Austin Riley and Matt Olson both drew walks to load the bases with one out. After Ranger Suarez fell behind 2-0 to William Contreras, he got a very favorable call on a 2-1 pitch to make the count 2-2 instead of what should have been a 3-1 count. Contreras grounded into and inning-ending double play shortly after and the Braves rally was extinguished.
There was more hard contact for Fried in the second after he gave up a 1-out double to 9-hole hitter Edmund Sosa. It didn't cost a run because he got a groundout and a sharp lineup from Rhys Hoskins to end the inning, but again, it was far from impressive for the Braves ace.
Travis d’Arnaud led off the bottom of the second with a solo HR, making the score 2-1, and making the groundball double play with the bases loaded last inning hurt even worse. But the Braves were back in the game and the crowd was back in the game too.
It wouldn’t last though.
In the top of the 3rd, Fried committed a throwing error on a JT Realmuto grounder to begin the inning, and that would mark the beginning of the end. After a very strange sacrifice bunt from Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos launched a double off the right field wall. The ball was played perfectly by Acuna in right field, so Realmuto had to stop at third, but the Phillies had another rally going. Alec Bohm followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1 and Jean Segura added another run with a 2-out RBI single and the Phillies had a 4-1 lead on the Braves’ ace.
The Braves threatened again in the bottom of the third, loading the bases again, but d’Arnaud struck out to end the frame and the Braves had 5 runners left on base through the first 3 innings.
Fried’s day would come to an end in the fourth after a leadoff walk to Edmund Sosa and a 1-out double to Rhys Hoskins. Jesse Chavez replaced Fried and immediately struck out Realmuto. After an intentional walk to Bryce Harper, the Phillies produced another back-breaking 2-out hit after Castellanos ripped a single through the left side to drive in two. Fried’s final line was 3.1 innings pitched, 8 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. The Phillies added another run in the top of the 5th with a Segura double, a sacrifice bunt, and a sac fly. The score was 7-1.
The Braves’ best offensive inning game, at least til that point, came in the bottom of the fifth when they got a 1-out walk from Matt Olson followed by a double from William Contreras. d’Arnaud then followed with a 2-run double down the left field line to make it 7-3 and at last, the Braves had some life.
After three scoreless innings from the Phillies bullpen, it looked like the Braves were going to go quietly into the night, but Acuna started the top of the ninth with a single, his third of the game, and Swanson, after the dreaded golden sombrero (4 strikeouts) in his first four at-bats, lined a double off the right field wall. Matt Olson then stepped up and launched a 3-run homer into the shrubs in center-field to make it 7-6. Truist Park was rocking.
But Phillies’ closer Zach Efflin got a diving catch from Castellanos in right field, words that are hard to type, let alone believe, and closed the door on a 7-6 win.
The Braves dropped Game 1 and now have to face Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola in the next two games to try an avoid desperately falling behind in this 5-game series. Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon 4:30 pm ET at Truist Park with Kyle Wright facing Zack Wheeler