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Braves Notes: Max Fried’s start, Spencer Strider and more

The Braves opened the 2022 season with a 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Cincinnati Reds v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If anything, the Atlanta Braves’ 6-3 Opening Day loss to the Cincinnati Reds is a reminder that Major League Baseball’s regular season is a marathon and not a sprint. Despite the disappointing result, the team has been through this before and are keeping it in the right perspective.

Max Fried allowed eight hits and five runs over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one. His line however wasn’t indicative of how he pitched as the Reds recorded four hits with exit velocities of 69.7 mph or less.

“I thought Max was good,” Brian Snitker said after the game. “I mean he battled and they didn’t really square him up. I’ve seen him have early games like this before and this wasn’t a bad game. He threw the ball pretty well.”

Fried wasn’t about to make excuses when asked about his performance. He described his start as something that you sometimes have to endure and get back out there.

“It’s baseball, it happens. Sometimes hard hit balls get caught, sometimes, soft balls find some grass,” Fried said. “At this point, you just try to control what you can control. They went up there with a pretty good approach where they could stay inside the ball and found some holes.”

Fried came out clearly amped up and struck out two of the first three hitters he faced. He hit Tyler Stephenson to start the second and Stephenson came around to score on singles by Nick Senzel and Kyle Farmer. He allowed two more runs in the third on run scoring singles by Joey Votto and a sacrifice fly by Stephenson. Things could have been worse, but Fried got Senzel to bounce into an inning ending double play.

He settled in over the next two innings retiring eight of the next nine hitters he faced. However, two-out singles by Mike Moustakas and Farmer chased him from the game. Collin McHugh allowed a three-run home run to Brandon Drury that ultimately put the game out of reach.

“It motivates you to get back out there and fix the mistakes that you made in the last one,” Fried said when asked about dealing with a tough outing. “So I’ll go back and see what was good and what was bad and try to improve off of that. I really liked the way that I finished. I felt like the first three innings were one type of pitcher and the second three felt like a completely different guy where I was felt more like myself. So I felt like we were able to finish on a good note and just trying to take that into the next one.”

The Braves managed just four hits in the game and Austin Riley had three of them including a two-run shot in the eighth inning that brought Atlanta within three. While the Reds offense found some holes with soft contact, the Braves weren’t quite as fortunate. Atlanta had four balls in play with exit velocities of 100.1 mph or higher that went for outs.

“You just got to come back tomorrow and go to work,” Riley said of the loss. “We’ve been through the ebbs and flows, we know how to deal with failure, whatever it may be. So, you just come back tomorrow and get back after it. I’m excited to get back and play tomorrow. I know everybody else says too.”

Riley broke out in a big way for the Braves in 2021 and was a huge part in the team’s turnaround down the stretch.

“You definitely take take that and try to build on it,” Riley said of his three-hit performance. “For me, it’s just trying to swing at strikes, execute my plan, versus whatever pitcher it might be and let everything else take care of itself.”

While Riley’s performance was notable, so was the 2022 debut of right-hander Spencer Strider who struck out five in two scoreless innings of relief. Strider showed that trademark velocity as 13 of his 24 pitches were at least 99 mph.

“I was glad to get him in there We wanted to get him a clean inning,” Snitker said of Strider’s performance. “He has the big arm and hopefully we’re going to work him into this thing because with an arm like that he’s got a chance to be a big part of what we’re trying to do.”

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