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Brian Snitker on going on the road for Game 6, Max Fried and more

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Snitker is confident that Fried will bounce back from his recent struggles.

World Series - Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Monday was a travel day for the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros as the World Series shifts back to Houston for Game 6 Tuesday and Game 7 Wednesday if necessary. The Braves will carry a 3-2 series edge into Game 6 and need just one win to secure their first championship since 1995. They failed in their first attempt Sunday, as an early four-run lead evaporated in a 9-5 loss. As they have shown throughout the postseason, they are adept at putting tough losses behind them and keeping the focus on the task at hand.

The Braves split the first two games of the series in Houston and they are hoping that experiencing the loud crowds will help them Tuesday. Atlanta also spent some time at Minute Maid Park in 2020 for the NLDS but those games were played in an empty stadium without fans.

“I think it is good. We’re going to a familiar place now,” Brian Snitker said of the series returning to Houston. I thought they handled it really good the first go-round, and I think because we’ve been there now and the whole routine and into the routine that none of that will be a distraction at all.”

The Braves faced the difficult task of covering a pair of bullpen games in Games 4 and 5 after Charlie Morton suffered a fractured fibula in Game 1. A strong performance from Kyle Wright in Game 4 bought them enough time to rally late. However, they were unable to hang onto the early lead in Game 5. Given the situation, Snitker was pleased to come away with one win.

“Yeah, I’m glad we split it,” Snitker said. “I knew it was going to be a rough spot having to do that, but it is what it is. We hated losing Charlie, obviously, but we survived the two bullpen games. Now after yesterday, the day off today, we’re in good shape now going forward.”

Atlanta will have Max Fried going on regular rest in Game 6 and Ian Anderson lined up for Game 7. They will also have a somewhat rested bullpen. Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson and Will Smith pitched in Games 3 and 4 but weren’t used in Game 5. Counting Monday’s off day, they will have two full days of rest entering Game 6. That will give Snitker some added flexibility.

“Everybody that’s in the World Series right now is gassed, everybody,” Snitker said when asked about how his bullpen is holding up physically. “Both teams, all the players. It’s been a long year, but I feel really good with where our club is. I feel really good with where the bullpen guys are. Some of these guys have had two days off and at the most two more games to play. I think they’re in good shape.”

“I admire the heck out of our bullpen because of what these guys have done,” Snitker added. “It seems pretty much they’ve all gotten better since they’ve been used.”

Fried will be making his fifth start of the postseason. He was good in the first two allowing just two runs over his first 12 innings. Things haven’t gone as well in his last two starts where he has allowed 15 hits and 11 runs in just 9 2/3 innings. Fried struggled early on in Game 2 in Houston but settled in a bit and was able to go five. Atlanta needs him to put it all together Tuesday.

“I always feel good when Max pitches,” Snitker said when asked about Fried. “We’re in a good spot right now with Ian on tap. Got a lot of confidence in Max. Looking forward to watching him go.”

Fried played a huge part down the stretch in Atlanta’s run to a fourth consecutive division title. He has made big starts in the postseason and without Morton, is even more important now.

I think Max is relishing in that. I think he’s excited about it,” Snitker said when asked about the need for Fried to step up after the loss of Morton. “I think he’s ready for that. I can just tell during the games, talking to him the last couple nights on the bench, and I think he’s really looking forward to this opportunity tomorrow.”

“I think he’s been off a little bit the last couple times, hasn’t been himself,” Snitker added of Fried’s recent struggles. “I expect to see Max on top of his game tomorrow. I expect that every time he goes out. I mean, this guy probably, since the All-Star break, is one of the best pitchers in the game. So that’s kind of the version of Max that I expect to see tomorrow.”

The Braves missed out on an opportunity to close out the series at home in front of their home fans. They have two more opportunities but will now have to do so on the road. Snitker was asked if there was any added pressure after the loss in Game 5.

“The pressure is getting here. We’re in the World Series right now. There’s no pressure,” Snitker said. “It’s pressure in the NLCS when you’re trying to get here. We all want to finish this off, but there’s no pressure. We’re one of two teams remaining in our sport, and I haven’t sensed any kind of pressure out of these guys internally.”