The Braves waited three months for the return of Max Fried and he got off to a good start with a perfect first inning. Fried’s first strikeout since May 5 was his former teammate Dansby Swanson.
Max Fried strikes out Dansby Swanson with a 97-mph fastball ⛽️— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) August 4, 2023
Welcome back. pic.twitter.com/9Stw0Z9Zor
It didn’t take long for Fried to settle into a rhythm. He added another strikeout in a perfect second and then struck out the side in the third.
Max Fried, Elevated 95mph ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/Q5g0sZfVTg— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 4, 2023
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks matched Fried pitch for pitch going nine up and nine down through the first three innings, but the Braves would land a haymaker in the fourth.
Ronald Acuña Jr. led off the inning with a solid single to center to get things started. Ozzie Albies followed with a double over the head of Cody Bellinger in center to put runners at second and third with no one out. Austin Riley then sent a grounder to second for the first out, but Acuña scored on the play to make it 1-0.
Matt Olson followed with a double down the left field that scored Albies to make it 2-0. Sean Murphy then sent one just over the wall in left for a two-run shot to extend the lead to 4-0. Marcell Ozuna then sent one onto Waveland Avenue to push the lead to 5-0.
Atlanta’s offense wasn’t finished though. After a strikeout by Eddie Rosario, Orlando Arcia doubled down the left field line and then scored on a single by Michael Harris. Acuña, batting for the second time in the inning, sent a triple to the right field corner that scored Harris to push the lead to 7-0. Albies flew out sharply to Suzuki in right to bring the inning to an end.
Staked to a big lead, Fried went right back to work in the fourth retiring the side in order to make it 12-straight batters retired to start the game.
Max Fried, Nasty 87mph Slider.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 4, 2023
6th K...and pic.twitter.com/kj6JkbXpV9
Bellinger snapped Fried’s no-hit bid with a leadoff single to start the fifth. However, Fried got Yan Gomes to bounce into a 6-3 double play and then struck out Suzuki to end the frame.
Fried retired the first two hitters in the sixth before allowing back-to-back singles to Miguel Amaya and Nick Madrigal. He came right back and got Swanson to ground out harmlessly to second to strand the runners.
Atlanta’s offense went quiet for a couple of innings after the seven-run outburst before Austin Riley hit his 26th home run on the season with two outs in the seventh inning to make it 8-0.
Fried would give way to Brad Hand to start the seventh. It was one heck of a return for Fried who was in control from the start and picked up right where he left off in May. He allowed just three hits and struck out eight over six scoreless innings while throwing 72 pitches.
8-strikeout gem for Max Fried.— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) August 4, 2023
Ace things. pic.twitter.com/DYYeQoebvk
Hand allowed a one-out single to Bellinger in the seventh, but got Gomes to ground into another inning-ending double play. Joe Jimenez continued his good stretch with two strikeouts in a scoreless eighth. Collin McHugh closed it out in the ninth to end the game.
With the win, Atlanta improves to 70-37 on the season and 14-2 against the NL Central. The Braves will go for a series win on Saturday with Bryce Elder on the mound.