The Braves were simultaneously thrilled and horrified.
The thrilling part was Ender Inciarte’s RBI double in the 10th inning that led to a 3-1 win Sunday over the host Miami Marlins, capping a three-game sweep over the worst team in the majors.
Horrifying was the sight of highly valuable pitcher Max Fried — who as of Sunday moonlights as a pinch runner — stumbling around third base before diving at the plate, scoring from first on Inciarte’s hit.
There was a risk of injury to his left hand on the play but Fried escaped unscathed.
“Trust me, that wasn’t my intention to go head first,” Fried said. “I came around third and kind like of stuttered a little bit. I wasn’t sure if (third-base coach Ron Washington) was going to hold me up. I lost my footing.
“I figured the only way I was going to make it to home plate was to launch myself forward. It was an instinctual thing. There wasn’t much thinking.”
Fried, a stud athlete who also played outfield in high school, said Sunday brought back memories.
“It just took me back to high school and running around the bases, diving,” he said, “just trying to make a play.”
This was Fried’s first chance to pinch run as a major leaguer, but he gets ready just in case every game, and he had his cleats on by Sunday’s seventh inning.
When Braves manager Brian Snitker called on him — to replace pinch-hitter Josh Donaldson, who missed three recent games due to a calf injury — Fried said: “Let’s go. Let’s do this!”
And when Inciarte stroked his double down the third-base line, Fried was off.
“I definitely knew I was going first to third,” Fried said. “I just kept watching ‘Wash,’ and I trusted his decision. I was just trying to run as fast as I can.”
It all turned out well for the Braves, and the best part was that Fried walked away healthy.
“Nothing’s wrong,” he said. “I didn’t get banged up or anything.”
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