With a chance to win their 14th straight at Nationals Park and secure the four game series victory, Max Fried took the mound for the Braves on Saturday.
In the top of the first, newly named All-Star Austin Riley hit a double that was just short of being a homer, but was the only baserunner for either team in the inning, as Fried was sharp. After a quiet offensive inning for Atlanta, Josh Bell continued to torment the Braves with a leadoff single in the second. Fortunately, Kiebert Ruiz grounded into a double play that Matt Olson made a great play on to snag the ball and tag Ruiz, completing the play (after review finally gave him the out). Maikel Franco singled before Fried induced a lineout to end the inning. Robinson Cano led off the top third with a double and Dansby reached on an error with one out. Matt Olson brought them both home with an opposite field homer and Austin Riley went back to back with another homer of his own after just hitting a would-be homer just foul earlier in the at-bat.
Fried worked another 1-2-3 third, but still hadn’t struck anyone out yet in the game. Duvall and Harris both singled on two softly hit balls in the fourth. Harris stole second to put batters on second and third with two outs for Dansby, who grounded out to end the inning. Juan Soto singled with one out in the fourth and Josh Bell (again) doubled and reached third with some assistant from Eddie Rosario misplaying the ball of the wall (although it was ruled a triple). Bell scored on a groundout and Fried got out of the inning with no further damage, but gave up a lot of hard contact in the inning. Matt Olson hit a ground ball over 100 MPH for an out and Austin Riley nearly hit a homer, but instead flew out, before d’Arnaud struck out to end the Braves fifth.
Fried finally notched his first two strikeouts in the bottom fifth in another 1-2-3 inning. After a scoreless Atlanta sixth, one out singles from Cesar Hernandez, Juan Soto, and Josh Bell scored Washington’s third run, but Fried got a ground ball double play to end the inning. Michael Harris walked to lead off the second, stole second and came around to score after Dansby doubled. Travis d’Arnaud singled to bring home Dansby and restore the lead to three runs. Fried got the seventh and struck out two for a scoreless inning. The Braves batters went down in order in the eighth before the game went into the inevitable Washington Rain Delay.
Coming out of the rain delay, Jesse Chavez pitched a 1-2-3 inning, albeit with some hard contact. Michael Harris hit a chopper off of the pitcher’s butt that turned into a double and stole third (for his third stolen base of the day) to lead off the inning, but Dansby, Matt, and Austin were unable to bring him home. Kenley came in for the save and quickly dispatched of the Nationals in 1-2-3 fashion for the Braves FOURTHEENTH straight win at Nationals Park.
Join us tomorrow for the final game before the All-Star break and the MLB Draft.