Both Max Fried and Spencer Strider had a productive day on the mound in their respective outings. The top two pitchers in Atlanta’s rotation each racked up three scoreless innings as the Braves found themselves on the winning side of things in both of their spring training games today.
In addition to both Fried and Strider continuing to ramp up for the regular season, the bats came out to play for both squads today. The first inning at both venues was fruitful in particular, as three Braves batters swatted homers during the first frame. Following a single from Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson crushed one over the fence in right center at CoolToday Park in North Port to get the Braves on the board. This was immediately followed up by Austin Riley smacking his first dinger of spring training with a no-doubter to center field as well.
Around the same time this was going on, Michael Harris II joined in on the fun by hitting his first homer of spring training. This one came on the first pitch that he saw and it was a laser beam over the right field fence. Needless to say, that was a pretty exciting sequence of events for Braves fans — especially if you were following both games at the same time.
Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson, and Austin Riley each weren't done with their hits in the first inning. Olson got his second hit with a leadoff single in the third inning, Riley got his second RBI of the game in the fourth inning and then Acuña tallied his second hit of the day with an RBI single in the sixth inning. Sean Murphy also found his way into the RBI column after he found a hole in the infield with a grounder of his own.
Meanwhile over in Sarasota, Eddie Rosario got an RBI single to his name as well, while Travis d'Arnaud also picked up a hit of his own. If you're counting along at home, that's seven Braves regulars who got hits today and when you consider that Vaughn Grissom reached base on a walk, then that's eight Braves regulars who got on base this afternoon. This is exactly the type of production that you want to see and here's hoping that it's a common occurrence once the regular season gets going.
On the pitching side of things, both starters got the job done in scoreless fashion. Max Fried's three innings may have included him giving up one hit, two walks and a hit batter, but he also racked up five strikeouts on the way. The first two innings is where the Twins gave Fried a tiny bit of trouble, but that evaporated by the time the third inning rolled around. Fried retired Minnesota in 1-2-3 fashion to end his day with no runs allowed, which is all you can ask for at this point in spring.
Over in Sarasota against Baltimore, Spencer Strider's performance was a bit more symmetrical in that he gave up a hit in each inning while he was on the mound. In fact, two of those runners found themselves in scoring position in the second and third inning, respectively. Still, that didn't deter Strider from keeping the Orioles off the board with just one walk conceded while he was pitching. Neither Fried or Strider were perfect, but you don't need to be perfect at this point of spring — you just need to get the job done in preparation for the long road ahead, and both guys got their respective job done with their efforts today.
Most of the guys who figure to play a big role in Atlanta's bullpen for this upcoming season were in North Port and it was pretty smooth sailing for those guys as well. Raisel Iglesias came on after Max Fried was done and pitched a scoreless inning with just one walk given up. Joe Jiménez followed him, gave up a hit and racked up a strikeout as he kept the Twins off of the scoreboard in his one inning of work. Jesse Chavez entered after that and if you blinked then you missed the journeyman reliever striking out two batters during his clean inning of work. Similar to what Max Fried and Spencer Strider were doing earlier, this was exactly what you wanted to see from these guys in particular.
As far as the results for each game were concerned, the Braves found themselves on the winning side of both contests. The Braves were up 3-0 after two innings in Sarasota and managed to make those three runs hold up in a 3-2 win over the Orioles. The North Port game looked like it was going to be a blowout as the Braves were up 7-0 after the first seven innings. The bottom nearly fell out for Atlanta in the eighth inning, as the Twins put up five runs and the Braves were suddenly faced with the possibility of following up an eight-run collapse with a seven-run collapse. Fortunately, Atlanta held on to the two-run lead in the ninth to make it a 7-5 win and a perfect day for the squad as a whole.
This was a really solid day for the players that are widely expected to be regulars for the Braves at the major league level here in 2023. It was a real treat being able to follow both Max Fried and Spencer Strider pitching on the same day, and it was especially nice to see the home run binge that was going on at both ballparks for the Braves. Things are looking good at the moment and let’s hope that it continues to look that way as the regular season rapidly approaches.