The Braves entered their 4-game series with the Mets this week in desperate need of at least a 3-1 series win to keep their division hopes realistic. Max Fried delivered that exact outcome Thursday night, pitching toe-to-toe against the best pitcher on the planet, Jake deGrom, coming out on top 3-2 in the final game of easily the biggest series of the season.
The game went exactly now you would think a Max Fried-Jake deGrom game would go, with every run worth its weight in gold, and every scoring chance a precious commodity. For the first two innings, both pitchers looked vintage, with Fried getting 6 out in the first 6 batters and deGrom getting 6 outs in the first 7 batters.
The third inning, the offenses finally were able to join the game. In the top of the third, the Mets opened the inning with a lead off double and a sharp single to center to put runners on first and third with no one out. But Fried slam the door on any runs scoring by going strikeout-strikeout-groundout to the next three hitters to extinguish the threat and keep the score 0-0.
The Braves’ third inning started with a 1-out line drive single to right from trade-deadline acquisition Robbie Grossman, and continued when Dansby Swanson launched an 0-2 hanging slider to the left-centerfield gap for a run scoring double to give the Braves an early 1-0 lead.
Austin Riley then followed the double with a 2-strike rope to centerfield for an RBI single and the Braves suddenly had a 2-0 lead against deGrom.
Both pitchers threw perfect fourth innings, and it was the top of the fifth inning that the Mets offense finally got on the board. After a leadoff single from Jeff McNeil, Mark Canha put up a tremendous 8-pitch at-bat that ended with him launching a 2-run game-tying home run to left centerfield, and the Mets were suddenly back in the game.
From there, both pitchers went into cyborg mode combining to set down the next 17 hitters in order. Fried set down the last 9 hitters he faced in order finishing the game with a line of 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 0 walks and 6 strikeouts.
It was the bottom of the seventh before a hitter would reach base again, aVaughn Grissom infield single with two outs that ended deGrom’s night. Mets brought in Seth Lugo to deal with Michael Harris II with two outs and a runner on first, but it didn't work out that way. Harris grounded a slow roller, perfectly placed up the middle to get through infield and actually allowed Grissom to come all the way around from first to score the go ahead run. Mets centerfielder Brandon Nimmo picked up the ball in shallow centerfield just as Grissom was rounding third but made a horribly weak throw to the plate that had to be cut off and relayed home. By the time it made it, it was too late to get Grissom.
deGrom finished the game with 6 2⁄3 innings pitched, 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 0 walks, and 9 strikeouts.
From there, the Braves’ bullpen finished the game out. AJ Minter got two outs in the eighth, with a one-out double from James McCann sandwiched in between the two outs. Braves manager Brian Snitker decided he wanted a RH-RH matchup to end the inning so he brought in Raisel Iglesias to get the final out. Iglesias immediately induced a broken bat groundout from Starling Marte, the eighth inning threat was over.
In the ninth, it got a little interesting for closer Kenley Jansen as Fransisco Lindor led off the inning with a single to bring up Peter Alonso. Alonso blooped a ball to shallow right-center that fell in between Ronald Acuna Jr and Harris, but Lindor was caught in no-mans land not knowing if it would be caught and got forced out at second. Jansen slammed the door with a strikeout and weak groundout to the next two hitters and finished off a crucial game and series for the Braves.
Atlanta moves to 73-47 on the season with the win and 3.5 games back in the division to the Mets. They've won 9 of their last 10 games. Next up is a World Series rematch as the Houston Astros come in to town for a three game series this weekend. Kyle Wright will start game one at 7:20 ET tomorrow night at Truist Park.