Max Fried made his first start at Dodger Stadium, with plentiful friends and family on hand to see him take the mound roughly 20 miles from where he attended high school. But Tuesday’s homecoming to baseball’s West Coast cathedral couldn’t have unraveled much worse for the Santa Monica native.
Fried was tagged for three first-inning runs and exited in the second frame after getting hit on the left hand by a comebacker. The Braves went on to lose, 9-0, continuing their woes against the Dodgers, whom they’re now 6-16 against in their past 22 in Los Angeles.
“It didn’t go the way I wanted,” Fried said. “Especially after that first. I just wanted to settle in, try to get deep in that game and that’s frustrating. I just wasn’t executing pitches in that first and it came back to bite me.”
Whether it was Craig Kimbrel standing idle in the bullpen, back-to-back postseason shutouts or this week’s added misery, Dodger Stadium has become a house of horrors.
The Braves, trying to ascend into contender status, simply haven’t yet been able to keep pace with the National League’s highest class.
Most of these losses follow what aligns as a stale, redundant Hollywood script: The offense had little juice. A defensive play or two didn’t go the Braves’ way. Whoever was starting for the Dodgers was masterful.
This edition was no different. The offense had four hits. Dansby Swanson couldn’t make a play that would’ve saved two runs. Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed a complete-game shutout. It was another beatdown, another night of few explanations.
Lead-off man Kike Hernandez gave the ball a ride to deep center to begin the night, but it was nothing more than a sweat-inducing out. Justin Turner delivered the real dent two pitches later. Turner’s first of three homers was the fifth shot Fried allowed this season, each coming from a right-handed hitter.
The inning spiraled downward. Cody Bellinger singled and advanced on a wild pitch. Fried struck out David Freese for the second out before walking Chris Taylor. Max Muncy hit a grounder that Dansby Swanson couldn’t field cleanly, scoring two more runs.
Fried, who hadn’t allowed a first-inning run all year, had permitted three – along with a walk and two wild pitches – in his first chance Tuesday.
Making matters worse, Fried was forced out after his 35th pitch. Alex Verdugo knocked a comebacker that bounced off Fried’s left hand. He attempted to warm up but the team removed him from the game after only a few tosses.
Fried is day-to-day with a left-hand contusion, meaning he avoided a substantial injury. The ball hit the fat part of his hand, the best possible outcome in that circumstance. It was the Braves’ only positive of the night.
“It’s a lot better than I was expecting,” Fried said. “I obviously got lucky. No breaks or anything. It’s a little bit swollen but manageable. Just going to focus on getting as much treatment as possible and get ready for that next start.”
Manager Brian Snitker said they’ll see how Fried is Wednesday before deciding how to move forward. He didn’t speak in certainties, but he shares Fried’s optimism that the southpaw won’t miss time.
The Braves offense was a complete no-show, as it’s been in three of the last four games at Chavez Ravine. Ryu was dominant, carrying a perfect game into the sixth before Tyler Flowers broke through. He finished with a 93-pitch complete game.
Ryu also threw seven shut-out frames against the Braves in Game 1 of the National League Division Series last October. In his last seven home starts, including that outing, he owns a 0.91 ERA and .214 average against. He hasn’t walked a batter in his last 56 innings at home.
“He just doesn’t walk anybody,” Snitker said. “I looked up there and he had 40-something pitches going into the fifth or sixth inning. He’s really good.”
Josh Tomlin logged four innings following Fried. Grant Dayton, Dan Winkler and Jerry Blevins each threw a frame of their own to get the Braves through the game.
All that stands between the Braves and being swept is all-time great Clayton Kershaw, set to start for Los Angeles in Wednesday’s finale. Mike Foltynewicz, making his third start, will look to get back on track for the Braves.