A long rain delay forced Max Fried out of a great start that included five hitless innings, but couldn’t break the Braves’ offensive stride as they overwhelmed Miami en route to a 7-1 win and a three-game sweep. With the Mets randomly dropping another game against the Nationals, the Braves’ deficit in the NL East is down a single, measly game.
Fried had a lot of command trouble last time out against the Rockies, but was back in fine, best-pitcher-in-the-league-type form in this game early, bamboozling the Marlins into both whiffs and weak contact. Fried retired the first 12 batters he faced without much effort — he allowed just one hard-hit ball and one ball with a hit probability over 18 percent across those batters, including striking out the side in the fourth. The only real blemish on his day was a five-pitch walk to Nick Fortes to start the fifth. However, he rectified the mistake pretty quickly with a strikeout and then a double play. After said twin killing, the game endured a long, multi-hour rain delay, forcing Fried out of the proceedings. As a result, he finished his day with a 6/1 K/BB ratio in five hitless frames, across which he faced the minimum.
The Braves, meanwhile, were not having anything near the same level of trouble with Pablo Lopez. Though Lopez got through the first two innings without allowing a run, the Braves had three hard-hit balls in two frames alone, and would have scored had a two-out single-double sequence from Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom not ended with Marcell Ozuna making an out on a hard grounder to third.
The Atlanta attack finally broke through in the bottom of the third. Eddie Rosario lined a leadoff single, and moved to third on Ronald Acuña Jr.’s 113 mph low liner, ground-rule double. Dansby Swanson followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center, though Lopez was able to avoid further damage by striking out both Austin Riley and Travis d’Arnaud around an intentional walk to Matt Olson.
No matter, though. The Braves tacked off in the fourth off Lopez with Marcell Ozuna’s 21st homer of the year, hit out to right on an 0-2 pitch. Jeff Brigham, who replaced Lopez after the rain delay, survived a few deep flyouts by the Braves in the fifth, but then gave up a two-spot in the sixth: Olson drew a leadoff walk, moved to third on a d’Arnaud single into right-center, and scored on a liner back up the box by Harris; d’Arnaud scored on a wild pitch later in the inning.
The Braves used Jesse Chavez to cover two of the game’s remaining four frames, and he did a Jesse Chavez-type job, striking out three, walking none, and allowing just a single hit (the Marlins’ first of the game). Collin McHugh gave up a run in the eighth (single bobbled by Rosario in right, leading to a “double,” followed by an RBI single), but later struck out leadoff man Charles Leblanc with runners on second and third and two out to end the inning. Kirby Yates pitched a scoreless ninth, leadoff walk and all, to seal the sweep.
The Braves tacked on more runs against Miami relievers in the eighth, too. Andrew Nardi allowed back-to-back walks to start the inning, and Harris singled home Olson again. After two outs, pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman (who walked to end the game last night) drew another free pass to load the bases, forcing Nardi out of the game. In came Cole Sulser, and Acuña greeted him with a flare into center that capped the scoring. All in all, every Brave reached base in the game but for Austin Riley, who went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, and pinch-hitter Guillermo Heredia, who came on as a defensive replacement and fouled out. Matt Olson drew three walks; Michael Harris II had three hits and now has a 145 wRC+ on the year.
The rain, and the fact that Carlos Rodon pitched today, prevented Max Fried from taking over the NL lead in fWAR. Still, he collected 0.3 fWAR on the day, putting him into a tie with Aaron Nola for second place with 4.9, behind Rodon’s 5.3. Rodon, to his credit, threw up a 10/2 K/BB ratio against the Phillies today.
With the division deficit at a single game, the Braves will head out to Oakland, Seattle, and then San Francisco (yeesh, why not the two Bay Area locales back-to-back?). They will resume play in Oakland on Tuesday after enjoying a restful Labor Day on Monday.