Max Fried didn’t show the capabilities of a potential ace like he did earlier in the season, but the 25-year-old pitcher looked a bit more like himself in Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the New York Mets at SunTrust Park.
On June 15, he gave up five runs in a game the Braves came back to win 9-8. At one point in the season, he led the league with an ERA of 1.83. There have been ups and downs this season for Fried.
Fried had better command Wednesday. He went six innings, striking out six, with two earned runs on eight hits.
“I felt like I put the team in a hole the last couple of starts,” Fried said. “(Tonight), it was just about getting back to the basics … not try to worry about making perfect pitches. I just tried to make good executed pitches and got some ground balls and it kind of got me rolling.”
As far as his demeanor, Fried didn’t look nearly as rattled as he did in the home series opener against the Phillies. Part of it had to do with the start of the game, whereas the Philllies scored five runs in the first five innings to the Mets’ two.
But despite a few situations where the Mets had runners in scoring position, Fried was able to play damage control and remain composed enough to get out of each tough situation.
Braves pitching stats
“He was staying in sync, he wasn’t coming out of his delivery and everything was a lot more consistent,” manager Brian Snitker said.
Fried excelled the most with his fastball command and control of his breaking ball. The Mets were able to get on base, but Fried and the Braves infield ensured they were left stranded. He started off the game consistently going with his slider, rather than his signature curveball. Around the third inning was when Fried said he felt like his curveball was coming back to him.
“I think he did a nice job kind of figuring out the release point to get it just below the zone, to get these guys to chase and get some weaker contact,” catcher Tyler Flowers said.
It wasn’t always easy, but Fried finished Wednesday’s win relatively unscathed.
After Fried gave up consecutive hits in the top of the sixth inning, Flowers made a significant play at the plate. With the game tied at 2-2, Mets third basemen J.D. Davis attempted to hurdle Flowers at home plate to give New York the go-ahead run. Flowers just barely managed to reach out and tag Davis’ foot to get the out.
“That was impressive,” Snitker said. “That took a lot of steps forward in my opinion.”
While Snitker pointed to getting out of the sixth inning defensively as a key to the game, the inning belonged to the Braves’ offense. Third basemen Josh Donaldson extended his hitting streak to nine games by hitting his sixth home run in that stretch to give the Braves the lead, 5-2. That was Fried’s cue to exit as Matt Joyce entered as a pinch hitter.
A.J. Minter pitched in the seventh inning in relief and was followed up by Anthony Swarzak and Luke Jackson. All three did not allow a run. Swarzak, acquired from the Mariners on May 20, now has a 0.65 ERA. In 13-1/3 innings pitched in his 12 appearances, he’s only allowed one earned run.
The win was with Fried’s eighth, joining Mike Soroka for the team lead. The last time two Braves pitchers won at least eight games before the all-star break was in 2014 when Julio Teheran and Aaron Harang each won nine.
After a four-game stretch that saw his ERA jump to 4.11, Fried settled in and delivered a solid outing.
“He kind of got himself back together,” Snitker said.
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