The game began as a pitcher’s duel between Max Fried and Trevor Bauer and evolved into a marathon, but the Atlanta Braves finally came through in the 13th to secure a 1-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Things started inauspiciously for Fried, as Nick Senzel and Nick Castellanos greeted him with back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners with no one out. Joey Votto came to the plate and helped the Braves out by bouncing to Freddie Freeman at first for the first out of the inning. Eugenio Suarez then swung at another first pitch from Fried and lined out to Ozzie Albies in the shift. Fried then got Mike Moustakas to ground out to end the inning and the threat.
An error by Votto in the second allowed Albies to reach and gave the Braves their first baserunner. Albies stole second but was left stranded as Bauer struck out Adam Duvall and Dansby Swanson to end the inning.
That was the start of five straight strikeouts by Bauer that ended when he hit Freeman with a 2-2 slider to lead off the fourth. Freeman moved up to second on an infield single by Albies with two outs but was stranded as Bauer struck out Duvall to end the frame.
Fried matched Bauer pitch for pitch and retired nine straight batters before Castellanos singled in the sixth to break the string of outs. Votto followed with an opposite field hit but Castellanos was gunned down by Duvall (and a great tag by Austin Riley) as he tried to go first to third.
Fried struck out Suarez with a nasty breaking ball to end the inning.
The Braves threatened against Bauer in the sixth but came away empty handed. Ronald Acuña Jr. led off the inning with a double off the base of the centerfield wall and then moved over to third on a sharp ground out by Freeman. That brought up Marcell Ozuna, but he chased an 0-1 breaking ball and popped out in foul territory for the second out. Bauer then struck out Travis d’Arnaud swinging for his ninth strikeout of the game.
Trevor Bauer, Overpowering 96mph Fastball...and K Scream.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 30, 2020
And compliments Acuña on his double while walking to the dugout. pic.twitter.com/bPbq7kCqlK
The Reds threatened in the seventh against Fried as Aristides Aquino blooped in a single with one out and then moved up to second when Fried hit Jesse Winker on the hand with an up and in fastball. Kyle Farmer then grounded to Austin Riley who tried to start the 5-4-3 double play but Farmer beat the relay throw at first. David Bell called for Matt Davidson to pinch hit for Curt Casali. Things then got crazy as Farmer broke for second after a pitch, but late. d’Arnaud threw down to second and caught Farmer in a run down. Aquino then broke for home and was retired on a leaping tag by Riley at the plate.
Unfazed by the missed opportunity, Bauer continued to mow down the Braves, striking out Duvall and Swanson to give him 11 punch outs in the game to set a Reds postseason record.
Fried exited after the seventh and you really couldn’t ask for much more from him after allowing six hits over seven scoreless innings. He struck out five and walked nobody while throwing 78 pitches.
After Chris Martin worked a scoreless eighth, Bauer retired the first two hitters in the bottom half and then exited. He finished the day having allowed just two hits while striking out 12 in 7 2/3 innings. He threw 103 pitches with 73 strikes. David Bell called on reliever Raisel Iglesias who struck out Acuña to send the game to the ninth scoreless.
Mark Melancon worked a perfect ninth to give the Braves a chance to walk it off. Freddie Freeman worked a lead off walk off of Iglesias who then struck out Ozuna, d’Arnaud and Albies to end the inning.
Atlanta’s bullpen continued it’s strong work in the 10th as Will Smith struck out two of the three batters he faced in a perfect inning. Former Braves prospect Lucas Sims replaced Iglesias to face the man he was traded for in Adam Duvall. Duvall worked a leadoff walk but the Braves again were unable to do anything with it as Sims struck out Riley to end the inning.
The game headed into the 11th and the Reds put together another scoring opportunity against Atlanta’s bullpen. Smith started the inning by striking out Tucker Barnhart and then gave way to Darren O’Day who struck out pinch hitter Shogo Akiyama for the second out. Castellanos then yanked a double down the line. The Braves elected to walk Joey Votto intentionally but O’Day followed with a walk to Eugenio Suarez to load the bases. Brian Snitker then summoned Tyler Matzek from the bullpen and he came through, striking out Mike Moustakas on three pitches.
Matzek stayed in the game for the 12th and worked himself into trouble quickly as he was greeted with back-to-back hits by Aquino and Winker to put runners at first and third with no one out. Snitker stick with Matzek, and he rewarded his manager by striking out Farmer, Barnhart and pinch-hitter Freddy Galvis to escape the jam.
The Braves again got the leadoff man on in the 12th but weren’t able to do anything with him. d’Arnaud led off with a solid single to left. Charlie Culberson pinch-ran, but was erased on a groundout by Albies who beat the relay throw at first. Duvall and Swanson then struck out again to send the game to the 13th.
Shane Greene began the 13th for the Braves by striking out Castellanos. He then allowed back-to-back singles to Votto and Suarez to once again put runners at the corners for Cincinnati. Snitker brought in left-hander A.J. Minter, who walked Moustakas after a nine-pitch at-bat. Minter recovered to strike out Aquino and got pinch hitter Jose Garcia to ground out to Swanson to escape the jam.
The Braves finally broke through in the bottom half of the inning. Nick Markakis led off the inning with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Cristian Pache. Riley followed with a single to left. Acuña then grounded out on a broken bat grounder in the hole for the first out. The Reds brought in Amir Garrett to face Freeman and pulled Castellanos near third to go with a five-man infield but Freeman lined a single to center to bring the game to a merciful end.
The Braves got solid pitching up and down but struggled offensively. Atlanta managed just six hits in 44 at-bats to go along with 21 strikeouts and just two walks. They finished 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Cincinnati managed 11 hits and three walks but were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Both teams combined for a record 37 strikeouts.
Game 2 is set for Thursday with first pitch scheduled for 12:08 p.m. ET. Ian Anderson will start for the Braves while the Reds will go with Luis Castillo.