I keep waiting for that night when Fried is going to pitch so well that I can really toot his horn. That hasn’t happened before now and it didn’t happen tonight. So, what I’d like everyone to realize is how well Fried adjusted after a disaster of a 1st inning (compared, say, to how well Gausman adjusted). The kid pitched with guts and determination for three innings after the first giving up only one more run. I really think that the first inning was caused by the Braves not being ready for a team like the Pirates. Fried and everyone else had to adjust the way they pitch to succeed. Having had so many issues with throwing strikes, the Braves ran into a team that loves pitchers that pitch strikes. When the Braves pitchers started throwing more stuff off the plate, the Pirates stopped hitting.
Two other things about this game stuck out like sore thumbs. First, 3-run HRs are really great. The more the merrier. And, second, the Braves relievers were more than outstanding; they were nearly perfect. For five innings they gave up one hit and three walks and no runs. Five pitchers combined for five shutout innings – Touki, Winkler, Newk, Swarzak, and Tomlin. Only Newk couldn’t finish an inning (side note: Snitker is getting really good at pulling Newk, particularly, but all of the relievers before some disaster strikes. He seems to be learning his team and adapting).
After tattooing Fried in the first, the Pirates spent the rest of the game trying really hard to force the Braves to win. They committed errors leading to unearned runs in three separate innings. And then, of course, they forced the Braves to hit HRs in three consecutive innings to end the game. We need to play guys like this more often.
I’m kinda tired and was distracted (family, sheesh) for a lot of the game. So I’m gonna make this quick. 1st inning = Fried, 2 outs, 5 straight hits including a *ugh* Melky HR, 4 runs scored. 2nd inning = Fried, 2 outs AGAIN, 3 straight hits, 1 run scored. 3rd and 4th innings = Fried, 1 hit, 1 walk, no runs scored. Meanwhile, on the Braves side, the Braves scored a run in each of the first two innings but should have had much more. Their more recent tendencies to swing at every first pitch certainly let Brault off the hook a couple of times even though he had no idea where the strike zone was. Even Max pitched in with a hit of his own to continue his dominance among the pitchers hitting.
So there we were, at 4 innings, down 5-2. Game over, right? Not this team. After scratching out a run in the 6th on a Joyce single, the next three innings consisted of Riley 3-run HR (7th), Donaldson 3-run HR (8th), and FF5 2-run HR (9th). BOOM, Braves win. Tuesday jinx broken. Temporarily in 1st place. Thus all is right with the world. Please don’t tell Austin this game is hard.
Just have to mention one more item about our wonderful bench, too. Every pinch hitter got on base. The pitcher’s spot in the lineup was 3/4 with a walk – not too shabby – Joyce RBI single, Camargo double, Culberson walk and run scored.