Max Fried’s Gutsy Performance Moves Atlanta Braves into Tie for First Place

The Atlanta Braves and the N.Y. Mets began a crucial series Friday night with the NL East on the line. Despite a stomach bug, Max Fried showed why he’s the ace.

The Atlanta Braves began Friday one game behind the NL East-leading New York Mets. The Mets sent Jacob deGrom, one of the most dominant pitchers of the past decade, to the mound. The Braves countered with an ace of their own, Max Fried.

Manager Brian Snitker said his ace was dealing with a stomach bug prior to the game and was not feeling well.

After five strong innings, Fried had allowed just one run. The lone run came as a result of two balls that “could have been, should have been caught” (as Chip Caray put it) on two gaffes by Eddie Rosario in the top of the second inning.

Fried gutted through the stomach ailment to fill a crucial role in a crucial game for the Braves. With the Mets bringing a triumvirate of deGrom, Max Scherzer (11-4, 2.13 ERA), and Chris Bassit (15-8, 3.27 ERA), it was of paramount importance that the Braves put their best foot forward in this series.

Fried’s performance in this game will be a key part of the 2022 World Championship documentary on Blu-Ray next year.

Braves Dingers Dismantle deGrom

After allowing one run in the second inning, Austin Riley, who came into the game third in the NL in HRs with 37, led off with a big fly to start the bottom of the second. deGrom slung a 1-0 slider and he named it Malcolm before he let it fly because it was right down the middle. Mets catcher Tomás Nido set up low and away but deGrom missed in the worst spot possible to Riley.

Matt Olson followed Riley to the plate. After a rough start to September, Olson put an exclamation mark on the final night of the month. deGrom missed his spots on his way to a 3-1 count. He unloaded Jimmy Eat World’s favorite pitch, a 99 mph fastball right in the middle. Olson blasted it deep to right center to make the game 2-1.

It was the first time Jacob deGrom had allowed back-to-back homers since Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson did it on June 18, 2019. 

deGrom would get things going, striking out 11 batters in six innings. He sat down seven batters in a row before he encountered Dansby Swanson in the sixth inning. Swanson took the first pitch of the at-bat 441 feet for his 23rd homer of the season, and 100th of his career. This was the first time since 2019 that deGrom allowed three homers in a game.

Braves Bullpen Brings Fried Relief

After Fried was seen dry-heaving in a dugout trash can and eventually rushed down the tunnel to vomit, he was removed from the game. The stellar Braves bullpen brought the first aid kit. It was disheartening to see Fried come out despite pitching so well, but the relievers did not disappoint.

Collin McHugh, Raisel Iglesias, A.J. Minter, and Kenley Jansen combined for four innings of one-run ball. Jansen picked up his National League-leading 38th save of the season.

If the Braves can pull off the coup and take the NL East Title in 2022, it will be the largest deficit the franchise has ever overcome (10.5 games) to win a division crown.

The Braves will send Kyle Wright (20-5, 3.18), the game’s lone 20-game winner, to the mound Saturday. A Braves win will leave Atlanta alone atop the division standings.