They had to wait a day to get back into action, but once Keegan Akin had thrown the first pitch of Friday night’s game, it didn’t take long for the Braves to nail down their seventh win in a row. After a breezy two hours and 29 minutes, Max Fried notched the first shutout of his career as his team cruised to a 3-0 victory over the Orioles, who have now lost 16 straight contests.
Fried’s first inning set the tone for the whole game. He gave up a one-out single, but then quickly got Trey Mancini to take a wild swing at a horrible pitch and knock it into 3-4-1 double play. Then, the newly-extended Travis d’Arnaud decided to celebrate by bashing a two-run, 401-foot homer to left.
Are the Braves ever going to lose again? I mean, yes, but also... no?
An inning later, it was Jorge Soler’s turn to jump all over an Akin pitch, this time a changeup that he threw one too many times (the third of five pitches in the plate appearance):
The Braves could have really blown it open later in the inning, as single-walk-single loaded the bases... but Adam Duvall hit the rare .330 hit probability barrel into left-center, where it went for a harmless flyout instead of a grand slam.
After that, well, it was all about Fried. He had retired nine Orioles in a row until Mancini came up in the fourth and hooked a hanging curve into the left-field corner for a double. The next batter grounded out to first, however, and Fried just kept on rolling. An infield single was the only damage in the fifth. Facing Mancini for a third time to start the bottom of the seventh, Fried gave him an opposite-field single past Freddie Freeman’s left, but then needed just five more pitches to escape that mini-jam, as Austin Hays lined out softly to shortstop, and Pedro Severino hit one of the most tailor-made double play balls to short you’ll ever see. The bottom of the eighth was a 1-2-3 affair with a strikeout. The ninth featured the lineup rolling over for a fourth time, but absolutely no sweat for Fried, thanks to his defense: Richie Martin hit a hard grounder up the middle that was gobbled up by Ozzie Albies, Cedric Mullins chased a nasty curveball on 1-2, and Mountcastle somehow hit a neck-level 96 mph fastball into the ground. Austin Riley made a diving stop and ended the game with his throw to first, giving Fried his second career complete game, and first shutout. It’s also Fried’s only “real” complete game to date, since his prior tally came in a rain-shortened, six-inning game in 2019.
I didn’t write much about the Atlanta offense because they didn’t do much after the third. Akin threw perfect frames in the fourth and fifth, but the Braves chased him after Dansby Swanson and d’Arnaud both reached to start the sixth. Dillon Tate came on and went 5-for-5 in retiring Atlanta batters, but was lifted before facing Freeman, who ended up doubling against Paul Fry anyway. But, Fry ended up throwing 1 1⁄3 scoreless anyway, yielding just a walk in the eighth and Freeman’s double. Tanner Scott gave up a single to Albies in the ninth, but nothing else.
Not that Fried really needed this support. While the 4/0 K/BB ratio represents only a middling effort for him peripherals-wise this season, the Orioles basically managed nothing of particular use off him all night. Fried allowed just four balls in play with a hit probability of 50 percent or higher. His line avoided a blemish when Mountcastle nearly homered to center in the sixth, but that would-have-been-a-solo-shot likely wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
Fried’s shutout was the first for the Braves since Mike Foltynewicz hurled one in 2018, and the first complete game since his own rain-shortened one in 2019. Travis d’Arnaud went 2-for-3 with his moonshot and a walk following the announcement of his two-year extension. While the Braves didn’t make much noise offensively beyond the homers, each of the first six batters had a hit, while the outfield went a combined 0-for-11 with a walk at the bottom of the order.
The Braves will seek their eighth win in a row on Saturday as Drew Smyly faces one-time divisional foe Matt Harvey.