After a frustrating game about starting their series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, the Braves got back on track thanks to a huge start from Max Fried (both on the mound and at the plate), Joc Pedersen’s first home run as a brave, and a whole lot offense when Atlanta dazzled the rays with the score 9-0.
Max Fried got the start of the Braves Saturday night and he was locked inside all evening. After allowing a single to Wander Franco in the first inning, he immediately picked him up and withdrew the next seven hits before giving up another single. That was pretty much the pattern all night, as he only gave up four singles spread over seven innings of work, but the Rays could do nothing else against him. His last line of the evening was 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB and 7 K.
Speaking of Fried, he also got things done on the plate tonight as he went 3-3 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored. There was no shortage of memes out there on the internet that talked about hitting him fifth and making fun of the rays to go Kevan Smith to get to Friedt’s place in the order.
The scoring for the Braves started at the bottom of the fourth inning and it became quite the frame for Atlanta. After Freddie Freeman had the singlet to lead the inning, Ozzie Albies hit a low pitch over the head of Brett Phillips in the center, where he scored Freeman and gave Albies a triple. Austin Riley then brought Albies home on a sack fly. With two outs, Guillermo Heredia hit a double rule on the ground that was almost a bad ball, Rays deliberately went Kevan Smith, and Max Fried came up in the clutch with a two-run double that stretched the Braves’ lead to 4-0.
The fun continued as Joc Pederson, in his first start in a Braves uniform, connected on a 1-0 pitch for a two-run homer to right-center to give the Braves a healthy 6-0 lead.
Freeman, who has been on an absolute tear too late, would not be denied his own longball in the race as he hit his own solo homer at the bottom of the fifth inning. The Homer was his 21st season.
The sixth inning was more of the same as Dansby Swanson finished to an RBI double after Smith went and Fried moved him over with another hit with runners at base. Freeman then drove Fried in with a sack fly, and so the route was locked inside.
When Fried left the game, the question of whether the bullpen would make this game more interesting than it should be became very relevant. Thankfully, this was pretty painless as Edgar Santana and Tyler Matzek threw pointless innings of relief without any unnecessary drama to shut the game out.