Once again, the Atlanta Braves have won a game after losing their previous game. The weird rollercoaster of mediocrity rolled into Busch Stadium as the Braves made easy work of the Cardinals to the tune of 6-1.
As it turned out, Atlanta’s third time facing Jon Lester this season ended up being the charm. Lester’s first start for the Cardinals ended up being an inauspicious one as the Braves started tagging him very early on. The Braves probably figured that they were in for a good time when Ozzie Albies (with his 6.8 percent career walk rate) coaxed a walk out of Lester to lead off the game. Jorge Soler took one pitch from Lester and then sent the second pitch into the bullpen in left-center field. After making one hundred percent sure that he had touched first base, Soler touched home to make it 2-0 Braves after two batters.
Soler’s homer was the second of seven consecutive Braves at-bats where the batter reached base. After Soler’s dinger, Freddie Freeman, Austin Riley, and Dansby Swanson all swatted singles. Swanson’s single brought in Freddie and it was 3-0 at that point. Following a walk from Adam Duvall, Joc Pederson got in on the fun by hitting a single of his own to plate Riley. Even Kevan Smith contributed to the runs — though predictably, he was the end of the hit parade. He grounded into a double play, but it was enough to bring in Atlanta’s fifth run of the first inning. Max Fried grounded out to end the inning, but you know that he was just happy to be hitting on the road before he had thrown his first pitch.
When the smoke cleared, the Braves found themselves ahead 5-0, and that ended up being more than enough run support for Max Fried tonight. Fried picked up his first two strikeouts of the night in the first inning and was a single from Dylan Carson away from finishing the inning in 1-2-3 fashion. The occasional single was just about all that the Cardinals could muster up on Fried tonight, as he absolutely clamped down on St. Louis and kept them off of the scoreboard while he was on the mound. I’d say that Fried managed to top that dominating performance he had against St. Louis back on June 18, which is definitely saying something about how well he pitched tonight.
Meanwhile, the Braves weren’t done with just the five runs in the first inning. Freddie Freeman had a three-hit night at the plate and his second hit was of the long ball variety. Freddie sent one into the seats that just about landed in fair territory to make it 6-0 Atlanta at that point. This was Freddie’s 24th home run of the season, who is continuously and steadily approaching the levels of production that saw him earn MVP honors during the 2020 season. It also basically made the game even more comfortable for Max Fried and the Braves than what it already was.
Fried ended up going six innings while striking out seven and only giving up four hits and a walk. Jesse Chavez, Edgar Santana, and Josh Tomlin (who gave up a run in the ninth inning to spoil the shutout) all banded together to close things out for the Braves, who picked up their 53rd win of the season in comfortable fashion. It was also their 18th win against NL Central competition — comparatively, the Cardinals have won 19 games against the NL Central and they actually play in that division.
Anyways, this was a really solid and comprehensive win for the Braves and now they will attempt to deal with two of their most formidable foes of this season — one being a new villain and the other one being an old adversary here in 2021: The .500 mark and winning two games in a row. Tomorrow should be fun.