Foltynewicz, Fried get final tune-ups in Braves’ loss to Mets

Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz reacts after giving up a two-run home run to New York Mets' Rene Rivera (44) during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz reacts after giving up a two-run home run to New York Mets' Rene Rivera (44) during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

And then there was one.

The Braves lost to the Mets 3-0 Saturday at Citi Field, their second consecutive loss in New York. They wrap up the regular season Sunday when Mike Soroka takes on Noah Syndergaard.

Saturday’s game continued the Braves’ inconsistency on offense. The team had just four hits, stifled by Steven Matz a night after being contained by Marcus Stroman.

It’s true the games are irrelevant to the Braves at this stage, but limping to the finish line is never ideal. Ronald Acuna is sidelined by a groin strain. Josh Donaldson has been quiet outside one game in Kansas City. Dansby Swanson struck out four times.

Freddie Freeman, who returned Friday from a brief four-day break to treat a bone spur in his elbow, seemed to be bothered by it at times. Freeman had already left by the time reporters entered the clubhouse, and when asked about it, manager Brian Snitker responded that you’d have to ask Freeman.

On the pitching side, Foltynewicz completed his final start of the regular season. The possible Game 2 playoff starter went four innings, allowing three runs on three hits. Pete Alonso was responsible for one of those runs, belting his 53rd homer, setting a single-season rookie record.

Alonso is among the many growing young stars in the NL East. Foltynewicz compared his swing to Bryce Harper’s for its violent nature. Snitker gushed about the soon-to-be rookie of the year.

“I look at that guy right there and I see ‘real,’” Snitker said. “What you see is what you get out of that kid. There’s no pretense. The enthusiasm, the energy he plays with – I look at him and I’m thinking there’s a ballplayer. He really likes playing baseball. I appreciate the heck out of him. I respect the heck out of him and what he’s done this year. And he’s real. There’s nothing fake about that guy. It’s probably a guy you love being around. I like him, man. I love his enthusiasm, how hard he plays the game, the passion he has. Good for him.”

Alonso’s homer came on one of Foltynewicz’s few mistakes in a 61-pitch workload. The right-hander earned a 1.94 ERA across his final eight starts, completing a comeback from a dreadful campaign that resulted in a demotion to Triple-A earlier in the year.

“I’m just thankful to be on the (postseason) roster this year,” Foltynewicz said. “Ever since I got called back up, I’ve been trying to make a spot, prove to them that the beginning of the year wasn’t me. So I’ve tried to turn the corner. Whatever (my role) may be, I’m proud and will try to get it done, whatever it may be.”

Foltynewicz was followed by Max Fried, who tossed 3-2/3 scoreless innings. The southpaw permitted one hit while striking out five in his final tune-up. It’s quite possible the Braves see Fried in a bullpen role next week similar to what he exhibited Saturday.

The Braves wrap up the regular season Sunday, their last game before setting their postseason roster. The roster will be dependent on which opponent they face, the Cardinals or Brewers. That race might be decided Sunday – or it could require a head-to-head Game 163 to determine the NL Central winner, which would delay the Braves’ roster decisions but help them from a competitive standpoint.

“It’s going to be opponent driven,” Snitker said. “Our roster in the postseason will definitely be opponent-drive. So that’s why we have internal discussions, weight scenarios. We’ll wait and see after tomorrow.

“As you look at matchups and what guys have done against each opponent, it could change. I don’t think it behooves us to announce anything because we’re not sure what we’re going to do. We have a lot of guys in place. We have a lot of guys ready. There are a number of pitchers who are in a good spot as far as rest and what they’ve been doing. They’ll be nice and fresh however we go.”

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