MILWAUKEE – On a night of three MLB debuts, Milwaukee’s Sal Frelick came out victorious as he stole the show in front of 39,707 fans at American Family Field Saturday.

Frelick led the Brewers to a 4-3 win over Atlanta, which sets up a series-deciding game on Sunday.

Allan Winans and Forrest Wall debuted for the Braves, and both impacted the game, but the Braves needed one more big play.

Five observations:

1. A couple hours before the game, Winans walked onto the field and looked to be soaking in the pregame scene during batting practice. He looked up and around.

“Just looking up, you know?” he said. “Don’t forget to look up every once in a while. Just kind of calmed the nerves and made you feel like you kind of belonged.”

Winans allowed two runs over 4 1/3 innings. Both scored in the fifth inning.

Before that, he pitched really well. He struck out five batters. His changeup and slider played. This was a solid debut, even if it ended in a loss for the team.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Perhaps the most encouraging part of the night for Winans: He looked comfortable. You couldn’t see the nerves.

“I felt pretty calm, honestly,” Winans said. “To be fair, I didn’t really feel my body during the warm-up pitches in the first. When the warm-ups were done, though, it truly did feel pretty normal – as normal as it can be.”

Winans left content with his outing, though he obviously would’ve wanted to go deeper into the game.

“It was pretty solid,” he said. “I think I gave the team a chance to win. I think that was my job and was kind of the reason I was here. I was pretty happy with it, for sure.”

2. The night ended like this: Bases loaded for the Braves, Ozzie Albies at the plate, Devin Williams on the mound. Atlanta trailed by a run.

Albies saw six pitches.

One became a loud foul ball. Had Albies kept it fair, it would’ve been a go-ahead grand slam.

“That one foul ball, it was like, ‘Holy cow,’” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s why (Williams is) so tough. It’s hard to get him in the middle of the diamond and he’s got that changeup that’s an equalizer for righties and lefties.”

Albies eventually struck out.

The Braves almost stole one.

“We put ourselves in a position (to win),” Snitker said. “Guys came roaring back. We were a hit away from maybe pulling this game out.”

3. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Frelick lined a ball to right field. Ronald Acuña Jr. made the catch and fired a throw home toward Sean Murphy, who couldn’t catch it as it bounced past him.

Willy Adames scored to give Milwaukee the lead as Frelick came through in a clutch moment.

In his major-league debut, Frelick went 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

“He had a game that he won’t forget, that’s for sure – offensively and defensively,” Austin Riley said. “I felt like he kind of built that momentum for them that whole game.”

One play that helped the Brewers score: Orlando Arcia fielded a grounder and fired to Riley at third base to try and get the lead runner. Riley couldn’t grab it. Adames, who slid into third, obstructed his sightline and he lost the ball.

“Hindsight, probably should’ve caught it,” Riley said.

But Riley pulled his weight in this game.

4. Riley homered – again. He tied a franchise record by hitting a home run in a fifth straight game – something previously done nine times by nine different players, and last accomplished by Acuña in 2018.

His three-run blast off Adrian Houser gave Atlanta a 3-0 lead in the third inning.

“He’s just such a good player, and how he handles the adversities and the ups and downs and everything, it just blows me away,” Snitker said.

The Braves never scored again, but Wall – the third player to make his debut on Saturday – gave them a chance. Inserted as a pinch-runner with one out in the ninth, he immediately stole second and third.

“I’ll say it here first: I think he’s one of the best base-stealers on the planet,” said Winans, who was Wall’s teammate in Triple A. “I truly do.”

5. The Braves are optioning Winans to Triple-A Gwinnett, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The team hasn’t yet confirmed the move, but this makes sense.

With two off days next week, the Braves don’t need a fifth starter until Aug. 1. This means they could give Max Fried one more rehab start and then bring him back to fill their rotation, if all goes well.

Brewers 4, Braves 3

Stat to know

10 - Over his last five games, Riley has six home runs and 16 RBIs. He’s only the 10th player to have a five-game span like that (limited to games in the same season).


“I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. I thought he handled himself well, the composure was really good. I thought he did a really nice job.” - Snitker on Winans

Up next

The Braves will face a familiar face in Sunday’s rubber game: Julio Teheran, the former Brave. Bryce Elder will start for Atlanta. The game begins at 2:10 p.m. ET.

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