‘Got all that bullpen help and didn’t use it’: Braves win rain-shortened game

Max Fried recorded his first career complete game Thursday night, albeit a weather-shortened six-inning affair.

Combined ShapeCaption
Max Fried recorded his first career complete game Thursday night, albeit a weather-shortened six-inning affair.

The debut of the Braves’ revamped bullpen will have to wait another day.

Rain, thunder and lightning stopped Thursday night’s game at SunTrust Park after six innings, at which point the Braves led the Cincinnati Reds by three runs with starting pitcher Max Fried still on the mound. The game never resumed, and when it was called after a one-hour, 46-minute delay, the Braves recorded a 4-1 win without any need this night for newly acquired relievers Shane Greene, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon.

“Got all that bullpen help, and we didn’t even use it,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman quipped.

Fried allowed one run on four hits in six innings, striking out four while walking none and throwing just 76 pitches. He was credited with the first complete game of his career, albeit one with a proverbial asterisk. The win improved his record to 12-4 and the Braves’ record in games he has started to 15-8.

“That was a really efficient, nice outing right there,” manager Brian Snitker said.  “He was hopefully going to go seven innings tonight (if not for the weather).”

Snitker planned to use Melancon, who already was warming up in the bullpen, if Fried ran into trouble in the seventh inning, followed by Martin and Greene in the eighth and ninth, respectively. But the weather nixed all of that.

“It was a little unfortunate,” Fried said. “My pitch count was still down, and I was feeling good, so I was excited about getting back out there. But we’ll take the win.”

The weather delay was the Braves’ eighth this season at SunTrust Park, seven of which have occurred since June 11.

 

Fried got all the offensive support he would need on Freeman’s three-run homer in the first inning. It was Freeman’s team-leading 26th home run of the season but just his third in 19 games since the All-Star break.

Although the relievers acquired this week didn’t figure into Thursday’s game, a player obtained at last year’s trade deadline continued his recent impact.

Left fielder Adam Duvall hit a massive 434-foot foot home run to left-center in the sixth inning -- his fifth homer in six games since being promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett on July 27. No one in the major leagues has hit more home runs over that short stretch.

Duvall didn’t have the impact the Braves expected in a bench role after he was acquired from Cincinnati on July 30, 2018, batting a dismal .132 (7-for-53) with no home runs, just one extra-base hit and no RBI over last season’s final two months. He didn’t make the team in spring training this year and remained at Gwinnett, where he belted 29 home runs in 94 games, until Nick Markakis’ broken wrist caused the Braves to recall him last week.

Since then, Duvall is hitting .480 (12-for-25) with seven RBIs. Four of his five home runs have come in the past three games. His three consecutive games with a home run matches his career-long streak.

“He has absolutely been fantastic,” Freeman said. “I don’t  see it slowing it down, I really don’t. That swing looks too quiet, too easy, right now, and he’s seeing the ball great. I mean, obviously, he’s not going to hit .480. But I think he’s going to be able to help us for the rest of the season.”

“I’m excited to be back,” Duvall said. “I just wanted to contribute and do what I can do and drive in runs and play good defense and help my team win.

“It means a lot because obviously with (Markakis) going down that’s a big blow to the team. I wanted to be able to come up and contribute right away. I’ve been able to do that so far, so hopefully we’ll keep it going.”

Division standings

The Braves and Reds will play again Friday night at SunTrust Park, the second game of a four-game series. Kevin Gausman (3-6, 5.97) is scheduled to start for the Braves against Reds left-hander Alex Wood (0-0, 3.86).

Wood, a former Brave and a former Georgia Bulldog, will be making just his second start of the season after enduring back soreness and numerous setbacks. Gausman will be making his third start since rejoining the big-league roster from a six-week injured-list stint attributed to plantar fasciitis.

In his first start back, Gausman allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings against the Washington Nationals on July 21. But in his second start, he allowed six runs on nine hits in six innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on July 28.

“I feel really good where I’m at mechanically,” Gausman said Thursday. “The biggest thing is just executing my pitches. I was able to do that in my first start back against the Nationals and threw the ball really well. That last one, a couple of pitches got away from me. Two pitches, and that outing is a lot different.

“But I feel like I’ve started to hit the ground running back up here. I’m excited to get the ball (Friday) and hopefully continue to progress.”

The Braves’ new relievers will be ready to finish what Gausman starts.